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Pause for thought

Now wait a minute...!

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I often counsel folks never to pray for patience, because in granting such a request — by definition — you will have to wait! 

There is a long-running joke in our household that my wife prays every night, “Lord, give me patience — and I want it right now!” 

In her defense I do have to say that it is one of her most productive attributes. She is a detail-oriented person who always wants to take action — now! Lots of stuff wouldn’t get done if she wasn’t pushing, pulling, agitating and cajoling for results right now but sooner if possible.

Now although patience will nearly always involve waiting, patience and waiting are different manifestations of a spiritual discipline with profound consequences. The Bible seems to be telling us that there are different aspects of waiting. For example:

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 NIV

Versus

“And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.” 2 Chronicles 7:6 KJV

To wait for something or someone, means to make sure we don’t jump in prematurely and take action before the other party or event. The plan of time is not something a Christian gets to control. 

As an aside, I am always amused by preachers and scholars who claim to be able to predict precise dates and times for prophesied events. God invariably leaves them with egg on their faces! His disciples asked Jesus when His kingdom would come on earth, to which He replied: “I don’t know, only the Father knows that!” If Jesus wasn’t privy to that knowledge what makes anyone think they have a superior insight into God’s plan?

Paul, writing to his pupil Timothy says this:

“… I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time …” 1 Timothy 6:13-15 NIV [emphasis mine]

So it is obvious that scripture is telling us to wait for the Lord and His timing and not get ahead of our headlights.

But the scripture also tells us to wait on the Lord which is different than waiting for the Lord.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 KJV

I’m sure you have been waited upon. 

If you go to a nice restaurant, a person — appropriately called a “waiter” — will attend to you to establish what your wishes are for your meal. They will await your command. They will take your order and cause your words to be transformed into a delectable dish which brings you pleasure. As Shakespeare said, “’tis a consumation devoutly to be wished…!” 

The objective is your satisfaction.

May I suggest a similar process for we who are called to wait upon the Lord? 

We should see our role as inquiring what the Lord’s wishes are, to understand correctly what is required and then to execute those requirements faithfully to bring about His satisfaction. This is indeed the role of a servant, and no one has ever modeled it better than Jesus himself.

If scripture is to believed, and if you are reading this I would assume you think it should, the rewards for this kind of waiting are spectacular: renewed strength, higher achievement, tirelessness and increased endurance!

It should be noted that in order to properly wait upon the Lord, we need to come into His holy presence. As King David reminds us this entails clean hands and a pure heart. Also our job as a waiter entails that we show up ready to “take the order” and this means we cannot let ourselves be distracted by other, less important, concerns.

Rather than my title of “Wait a minute…” let me suggest that we should be “Wait continuously…”. 

That may mean rearranging how we spend our time, but the satisfaction and approval of our God is most definitely worth the effort.

Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black

Saturday September 3rd, 2022
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