Several months ago, I arrived at my doctor’s office and checked in. Sometimes things run behind, but this time, I waited and waited. People arriving after me were called back as I sat.
Closing time drew nearer. I approached the receptionist and she said, “Oh, no, they haven’t called you back? We must have forgotten you.”
When we find ourselves in God’s waiting room, thankfully, we’re not forgotten. God is working.
Yet, we often find ourselves waiting. When we’re waiting, we’re in good company. Numerous people in the Bible waited. Abraham waited 25 years after God’s promise. Joseph, falsely accused, waited 13 years. Moses waited 40 years before God revealed his assignment. Noah waited 120 years before rain came.
What can we learn about waiting?
First, God is not bound by time. God’s concept of time is nothing like ours.
Blogger Gary Thomas wrote in a post entitled, That Excruciating Exercise: The Discipline of Waiting that “we serve a God whose calendar moves by millennia, not minutes, and who thinks in terms of generations, not seasons. Unless we understand this about God, we will never understand his ways with us. Peter is very clear: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day (2 Peter 3:8).” (garythomas.com, 12/2/13).
God is more concerned with fulfilling His purpose than He is with our timetable.
Second, a natural delay occurs between planting and harvesting. We can plant seeds, but the seeds don’t produce right away, do they? You don’t plant and then go outside the next day and see fully grown produce. Growth takes time.
Biologists identify five stages of germination when it comes to planting:
Water fills the seed (imbibition)
Water activates enzymes that begin the plant’s growth
The seed grows a root accessing underground water
The seed grows shoots that reach towards the sun
The shoots grow leaves and begin the process of responding to sunlight.
Eventually, as the process progresses, fruit or produce appears.
Third, waiting means confident expectation. When we wait on the Lord, we wait with a sense of eagerness and anticipation.
The Psalmist gave us a good illustration of this idea in Psalm 130:5, 6 . . . (“My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning”). Picture soldiers on night duty guarding the city, standing on the city walls, keeping a keen eye.
These watchmen eagerly anticipated the coming of dawn when their shift was completed, and they go home and go to bed. As time passed and the night evolved into the early morning, they watched with expectancy as darkness gave way to the sunrise.
Waiting involves the confident expectation that something special is going to happen at God’s appointed time.
Fourth, waiting gives opportunity for God to build our character. God uses waiting to produce spiritual growth if we take advantage of it. God is more interested in building our character than He is in granting our desires. God uses waiting to teach us.
Waiting is always a test of character and of faith. When we find ourselves in that natural delay between planting and harvesting, that’s a test.
Have we learned patience? Have we learned to depend on God? Will we give up on God or will we cling to God? Will we run ahead of God?
Fifth, waiting involves trusting God’s timing. Relying on God’s timing gives God the benefit of the doubt that He knows what He’s doing. Waiting reminds us that “I am not in charge.” We have to trust God, totally relying on God as we wait for Him to do His work on His timetable.
Sixth, waiting gives the opportunity to seek the Lord. Where is our focus while we find ourselves in this delay? On the thing hoped for? Or on the Lord Himself? Lamentations 3:25 reads, “The Lord is good for those who wait for him, to the person who seeks Him.”
Seventh, waiting prompts us to remember the goodness of God. Learning to wait comes from confidence in who God is, in what God has done and in what God will do.
God is a good heavenly Father. He never takes a day off. He never sleeps or slumbers. He’s never lazy. He is always working out His purpose for His glory and for our benefit according to His perfect plan and perfect timetable.
David L. Chancey is pastor at McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia.