Get in line!
Waiting seems to be one of the unifying experiences for those of us involved in missions. That’s probably being demonstrated right now by the hours some are waiting in airport security lines.
Let’s be honest – We don’t like waiting. In fact, we might say that we’ve been trained by our culture to hate waiting. We want instant results. Just a couple years ago, having internet speeds of 5mbps was lightning fast. Today, if you only have 5mbps you should be looking at other internet carriers! But if you happen to end up in a developing country, 5mbps might be your new definition of heaven on earth!!
Have you noticed that God doesn’t run on our time schedule?
It seems that sometimes he is not tuned in to the critical nature of our ‘need for speed.’ Many of us wait what seems be an acceptable amount of time for God to act (different for all of us, no doubt), get impatient, and then take matters into our own hands.
This tendency is not unique or new to our culture or our generation. Abraham, in the Old Testament, had this problem, although he did show a lot more patience than we normally do. God promised him that his descendants would become nations of people when he was 75 years old. Ten years later, at 85, Abraham was still without a child, so he decided to help God out by having a child, Ishmael, with his servant Hagar. God appeared to Abraham again when he was 99 and reiterated his promise. Abraham’s wife Sarah was 90 years old by this time. Within a year, Isaac was born. “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”
God fulfills his promises – in his way and in his time. Have you ever wondered how many miracles we have missed because we haven’t waited beyond the possible into the impossible?
So, how should we handle waiting? Surely God knows that we need the financial support to come in by next month so that we can make the beginning of the language school class we have targeted. Surely God knows that if we don’t get a longer term visa for our country of service that we won’t be able to stay there over 90 days and do the work he has called us to. Surely God knows that kingdom work will be stifled by the communist political party if it is elected into office.
Being able to wait rests completely in our belief that God exists, that he is active in the world, that he loves us.
When we take matters into our own hands we reveal our doubt in at least one of those truths. The next time you find yourself anxious to move on when God is too slow, force yourself to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13).
We have all gone ahead of God. When you do, don’t beat yourself up. Confess and trust in God’s grace and mercy. Abraham made a pretty big error, but God still kept his promise. Both Ishmael and Isaac became fathers of nations. God is faithful, even in our unfaithfulness (2 Tim 2:13).
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.