In her book, Restless, Jennie Allen writes,
“I am beginning to think God’s favorite word in the entire universe is WAIT.”
Throughout Scripture, God worked in and through all different kinds of people, and one of the very few things they had in common was that at some point, they waited on the Lord. I’m talking about a significant period of their lives spent waiting. When I read stories like that of Joseph waiting years for a prophecy to be fulfilled, or of Sarah and Abraham waiting decades for a child, my focus is on the result of their years of waiting – the gift they received at the end! Whether it was a long-awaited offspring or the position of power that had been promised, it seems that everything was “worth the wait” because of the blessing that came in the end.
Folks, let me be honest and admit - that is not enough for me. When I know that my own season is one of waiting on the Lord, a promised “blessing to come” is not enough to temper my natural inclination towards impatience and my dislike for delayed gratification. Even the added benefit of character-building, of a newer, stronger me at the end, does not satisfy the present discomfort. I need something more than the hopes of a someday answer to a prayer to get through seasons of waiting. Deep down, there is a lack of trust in what God can and will do and an unmerited amount of trust in my own ability to control and manipulate. This selfish nature bubbles to the surface when I am asked to wait, and my response is so often to turn inward and figure out a way to achieve my desired result without the waiting piece.
This season of Advent, of anticipating for the Christmas celebration of Jesus’s arrival, reminds me of the purpose of waiting. The truth is that what God does in the waiting time, in the in-between, is so much more valuable than anything I could contrive for myself. Yes, He tears me down and builds me back up. Yes, He proves that His word is always the last word. Yes, He is always trustworthy to complete what He has begun. However, what makes this season, and every waiting season, possible and realistic and even, dare I say, beautiful, is that He makes HIMSELF known to us in the present. The gift of Christmas is GOD. It comes in the truth, in the gift, of showing up in the midst of our waiting. This is what I most desperately need. God’s presence softens my heart to wait on the future strength and maturity and blessing that is ahead. His comfort and contact tames my “prone to wander” heart and keeps me at His side, rather than jumping ahead to what purposes I would most quickly set forth.
The verse currently written on my mirror is Psalm 27:14, that says,
“Wait on the Lord. Be strong and take heart, and wait on the Lord.”
Yes, Lord. I will wait, despite all my most selfish tendencies.
I will wait, but only if YOU wait with me.