It’s often one the most difficult things to do, in fact, especially in our culture. I often find myself thinking that I have been waiting patiently, when in reality I’ve been tapping my foot at God for days/weeks/months. We idolize those who jump head-first into challenges and take on giants, whether in movies, music, or business; but we largely ignore effort over time. We forget that “putting one foot in front of the other” is as valid today as it was a century ago. Often, we even skip over the part that Jesus himself lived at least fifteen years past when he was at least mentally “ready” before starting his ministry. Jesus was talking wisdom into the ears of temple teachers from the age of twelve! Even though I know this somewhere in my subconscious memory, I still just like to skip to the part where Jesus walks on water, heals the sick, or calms the storm. I mean, in today’s culture, who likes to consider the part of a story where the hero engages in menial tasks for even a day, let alone a decade or more? That is why we call them action heroes after all.
This epidemic of impatience is destructive in the life of the Christian. God’s timing is perfect, and in our humanity we lose sight of this and try to take control. We try to take control of our schedules, our relationships, our work. Lately I have been thinking a lot about how we can understand not only when patience is needed, but what it looks like in our lives. Dr. Charles Stanley sheds some light on what waiting on God should look like in his sermon “God Acts on Our Behalf.” Here he describes that God’s will is not only for our good and His glory, but that His will falls completely in His timing. He summarizes what our part in embracing patience and God’s timing looks like in five key points:
1. Resting in the Lord requires patience, which is simply the will to wait.
2. You and I must also listen for further instruction, instead of rushing ahead with our solution or agenda.
3. Waiting requires that we calmly accept the Lord’s work in our lives.
4. Some of us may have to surrender what seems like an immediate need and resist the temptation to set our own timeline.
5. Waiting on Him is purposeful anticipation that God will accomplish what He promises.
Almost everyone who grew up in America can relate to the phrase, “learned it the hard way.” Why is it that despite the part about it being the hardest way to learn, almost everyone prefers to learn things this way? Although we cannot avoid everything - we’re not at all perfect - we don’t have to mess everything up in order to learn that it won’t give us what we need. We simply need to let God lead our learning, let Him take control. Living in the world is not supposed to go is we would have it, or be as comfortable as we would like it to be. Instead, as Christians we are to live life the way God would have it, and accept his gift of peace and forgiveness, waiting for the time when our will comes alongside God’s. Until then we must wait in His strength, and never forget that He will accomplish what He promises.