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Waiting Is Not A Waste

A Time to Wait

As the author of Ecclesiastes emphasizes, there is a time for everything. A time to usher in life’s new chapter with clarity, confidence, and joy. A time when taking the next step is not marked by stifling “what if’s”. There’s also a time for deliberate pauses and periods of prolonged waiting. There is space in otherwise a fast paced frenzy for stillness and contemplation, whether by choice or circumstance.

In this current season, I identify with the latter and to be honest, I feel conflicted between trust and anxiety. Somedays are characterized by greater peace and reassurance in God's goodness. While other days, the uncertain horizon feels like a nightmare trapped in my mind. However, what comforts me is knowing that the Bible is littered with story lines of waiting. I am not alone. More so, waiting is not captive to happenstance, but is intentional.

We see this in the very beginning. Adam was acquainted with loneliness before he knew intimacy. Wait revealed his inherent need and longing as part of the process of discovering that his Marker alone fully satisfies. From the life of Joseph, the sweetness of forgiveness and reconciliation is delayed a decade or more. The painful years that ultimately led to an unlikely heartfelt family reunion were marked by grief, abandonment, betrayal, envy, and mistreatment and yet, he grew in perseverance and faith.

Fast forward to the fateful event of Good Friday, when heaven and earth held their breath. The disciples witnessed their Messiah and the Son of Man unjustly tried, convicted and publicly scorned and shamed on a tree. That weekend of loss, devastation, and dread must have felt like forever until the power of resurrection and the glory of ascension. Since then, we live in the already-not-yet hope, groaning with creation for the day when Jesus makes all things right and all things new.

There is no shortcut to waiting. Waiting is not delaying gratification filled with empty distractions. It is not powering through by just grinning and bearing through it. It is more than the idle passing of time. It is being still and knowing He is God. As the author of Hebrew writes, it’s “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (12:2 NASB). Waiting is a holy, redemptive, and restorative work of God.

Intended for Confession and Repentance

God is patient in our journey through waiting especially when it is muddy, messy, and ugly. He pursues us in the process to reveal and reprieve us from the insecurities and beliefs that hinder our freedom in Christ. He uses waiting to expose our fear of being discovered a failure, hypocrite, and not good enough along with our knee jerk reactions to control, criticize, manipulate, and defend. He knows we are impatient, envious, self-centered, contemptuous, and how we justify our complaints attempting to disguise our finger pointing at God.

When our motives and inclinations are named, do we actually believe this is the kindness of God inviting us into confession and repentance?

In the well known parable, the younger son leaves home in arrogance and pride. Some time later, he is confronted by the depths of his own poverty — physically and materially but more so, emotionally and relationally. In a moment of clarity and sobriety, he remembers what life was like under the care of his father and decides to make the repentant return home.

Given how he had left, his realistic expectation of his father’s reception was very low. That’s why Luke 15:20 is shocking, “But while [the son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The scandalous welcome of the father embodies the gospel truth; humble confession and sincere repentance and God’s gracious response tells the beautiful story of redemption.

Confession is about returning to the joy of Christ’s salvation and repentance an act of resting in his perfect provision for us poured out on the cross. Dan Allender writes, “Repentance though it may involve certain levels of grief and awareness of failure, is sufficiently a response to joy, the invitation of God to celebrate our return.”

Renewed Hope in God’s Promises

These past few months, I’ve collected symbolic rocks like the shepherd boy David gathering five stones for his epic battle with Goliath. Each of my rocks represents a promise in the midst of ruminating replays of judgement, anxiety, and hopelessness. When my focus begins to turn inward toward the chaos, I desperately scheme a plan to squelch the angst. Then, my fingers trace the smooth surface and rounded corners, and feel its cool touch. Its weight makes hope tangible.

I confess, “I am prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love.”1 I plea, “Take my heart, oh, take and seal it with Thy Spirit from above.”2 The rhythmic sound of these rocks of promise rubbing against each other as I pace back and forth bring me back to the yes and amen found in Christ alone. And I play my current playlist of promises.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

“… all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16 NIV)

“But God…” (Ephesians 2:4 ESV)

“… what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:15-22 ESV)

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6 ESV)

Waiting renews our hope in God’s promises. It is indeed for our good, and his glory.

1 Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

2 Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing



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