I don’t think anyone truly enjoys waiting. Perhaps some are just better at it than others. Or moreover, some are better at pretending they are better at waiting than others. We see this personified best in our children. When it is time to go to the pool, time for a snack, or the next thing in the world comes into their vantage point all that matters is now and the necessity to have it instantaneously. Whereas the constant stream of vocabulary coming out of the child’s mouth tends to be, “I want that now,” the classic response from the parent is also just as predictable, “Hold on, just wait a second.” It is easy to see in children because, let’s face it, children are more honest. They are more real. They are more vulnerable and forthcoming in their emotions than adults would ever be. I’d like to think that I have more patience, I have more self-control, that I have more contentment in life. But I am baffled as I see my children exhibiting the fruits of the spirit a whole lot better than me. Sure, they might erupt in a fit of exacerbation because they could not get the piece of candy immediately, but I am not sure that we, as adults, fare much better. Our fits of rage exhibit in not treating each other very well, hoarding our resources to ourselves, and climbing the social or business ladder by stepping on those that might not climb as fast or as high. If I am honest with myself, patience is a fruit that I find wanting in my life. And if I am really honest with myself, my patience with God is even less than my patience with the world.
As I wait for the package to arrive in four days instead of two like Amazon Prime told me it would take, in my anger, I at least know the protocol for understanding the situation and working towards a solution. When I impatient with a friend, my spouse, or even someone I’ve just met there are a list of social norms and customs that allow my frustration to be dealt with. I can choose how I will respond and generally there is a justification that I can come up with where I am on the winning side of the argument. It is a little different with God. Our world doesn’t enjoy waiting – so it creates constructs to alleviate the waiting to satisfy our need for now. But God doesn’t work that way. In fact, he works in the opposite vein. He uses waiting to produce the very fruits that we seek. He uses waiting to train us, to build us, and the allow us to realize that the journey is just as important as the end result. We also see God using patience as a preparing ground for the substantial work He calls us to in this life.
Anyone can take a quick jaunt into the Text and he or she will quickly recognize God’s desire to make us wait. Moses in the desert for 40 years before being called to free his people. The Israelites in the desert 40 years to learn trust. Abraham waiting 100 years until he finally got a son, twenty-five of those years waiting on the Lord to come through with what He promised to do in His covenant. We see Jesus tempted in the wilderness for forty days. We see Noah on the ark for over a year waiting for God’s promise to come true. And the examples go on and on. What are the take-a-ways that can apply to my impatient life? First, my aggravation that I have to wait a day or two for something pales in comparison to the amount of waiting that God required the characters in the Bible to endure. So I think perhaps we get off quite easily. Second, the longer the wait, the sweeter the fruit. And third, waiting always preceded the greatest events of the Bible. That God would make someone wait so that they could be affective in the task that proceeded after the waiting.
So it seems that our posture while we wait needs to be one of anticipation and hope rather than frustration and anger. That as we wait our recognition needs to be focused on the joy of waiting, knowing that God has something important and life changing for us and others in store when the next season presents itself. That should be exciting for us. My best friend clued me into a word epiphany the other day and it really has stuck with me. He told me that the word for “wait” in Spanish is “esperar.” However, that word also has another meaning – “hope.” He explained that you cannot wait without hope and you cannot hope without waiting. That waiting inherently has hope attached to it and one cannot live without the other. That put a new perspective in my waiting game. That my waiting needs to be hopeful, expecting, and trusting that God is going to use it for His plan and call in my life.
Narrow Gate Exchange has had its share of waiting. For over three years now we have been waiting for clear open lines to bring a steady flow of students for our training. Our expectations and plans were to steam ahead and train ten students at a time, twice a year and we should have had fifty students by now go through our program. As Visa delays, communication issues, and now with Covid-19 frustration could easily rule the day. Our anger and contempt could amass to levels that would leave us ineffective and dead in the water. But God is calling us to “esperar” – to wait in hope. As Davis, our first graduate, flew home to Uganda to build his business which is finding amazing success, we looked at ourselves and said, “Thank God He just sent us one!” He knew what we needed, not us. Just as He knows that we need to wait so that through this preparation, God can make us into the instruments that He constructed, not us. So we “esperar,” we wait on God and we will continue to do so until He tells us to act. Perhaps you need a little “esperar” in your life. Maybe we all need to take a look at our perspective of waiting in this world and turn it on its other side and see the positives that it can bring. Let’s get quiet in our lives and allow the waiting to train us to be more like Christ. God has your plan, it will come to fruition, until then….let’s wait!