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Hurry, Hurry, Hurry! Wait…

July 1, 2009

1086908_local_time_2Hurry, hurry, hurry! Wait…

We serve a God whose calendar moves by millennia, not minutes, and who thinks in terms of generations, not seasons…

Always keep this in mind: We will never understand God and his ways unless we remind ourselves that throughout history he has moved by millennia, not minutes.

~ Gary Thomas, Authentic Faith

Oh, how I wish I could remember this more often. Looking at life now, it rushes by in moments. If I blink, I’ll miss it. Life, particularly in Korea and in the West, has sped up tremendously as advancements in technology, business, and economies have developed. People are always trying to get ahead, to be successful, even to keep up. I read somewhere once that we now live in a “Microwave Society”: everything is “microwavable,” everything is instant.

I want what I want, and I want it Now

The microwave is a wonderful invention. If I’m hungry, I pop in some food, set the timer for a few seconds, and have an instant, hot meal – with almost no work on my end – awesome! Now, think about life that way. We all see problems and have commitments, and we want instant solutions and answers in our lives. I want instant muscles, instant flexibility, instant sleep (no time for the real thing), an instant marriage (casual sex anyone?), an instant divorce (“my feelings are gone”), an instant car, an instant house, an instant job and career, instant acknowledgement and recognition of my greatness, instant social change, instant money, and the list goes on. Every time I turn around, I see someone with something I want and I think, I want that now.

But God says:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

~Exodus 20:17

“Ok God, Ok. Coveting is wrong, you’re right,” you say. “I don’t mean to covet. In fact, I’m not really doing it, I just have a longing, a hunger deep down in my soul for _________.” You fill it in: car, money, house, social change, job, career, success, whatever. But really, when I look around and I’m envious of the blessings others enjoy, and I want those things for myself now, it is covetous. My heart fills itself with greed and lust and I turn my eyes away from God and to the things I desire – and that never works out well for anyone. How about the global economic crisis these days?

Check out the strong words James uses to illustrate this point:

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

~James 4:1-4

Seek first His Kingdom

“Ok God, Ok,” you say. “You’re right. I shouldn’t covet, and I should ask you for the things I need.” And then, because you’ve had such a change of heart, you also say, “And, I don’t want to ask you with the wrong motives so that I spend what I get on my pleasures. God, help me to ask with right motives, with your heart, and in your will. Amen.” Then, feeling confident that God has heard your honest prayer (and it was honest), you begin to ask for what you need – but not as you used to. You don’t ask for “instant” things now, or for luxury items. Rather, you truly seek God and His heart and His kingdom, and you ask. And you ask. And you ask. And you ask.

Hmm, you think. God should have answered by now. But he hasn’t, at least not in the tangible way you’d expected. And then impatience starts to set in. “God!” you say, “Haven’t you heard me? Aren’t you listening? God, I’ve prayed this prayer, this holy, divine prayer for a year. A year! I’m truly trying to seek after you, Lord, but I’m not seeing any results. How can you expect a man to work with no results?”

But wait. Let me stop you right there.

Waiting Models

Did you realize that in Genesis 29, Jacob worked for his uncle Laban for seven years to marry his beloved Rachel. Seven years. And when he finished his contract, Laban gave him Leah, the wrong girl. So he stayed and worked for Laban for another seven years for Rachel. When I get impatient waiting for my marriage, I remind myself of the fourteen years Jacob worked in order to be married to his beloved.

In Genesis 12, God first promises Abraham that he will “make you into a great nation” when he is seventy-five years old. In Genesis 15, God promises Abraham a son and reaffirms his covenant to make him a great nation. In Genesis 16, Abraham and Sarah take matters into their own hands and try to have a family with Sarah’s maidservant. Abraham is eighty-six years old when he has Ishmael. Then, in Genesis 17, God again promises Abraham a son, telling him to name him Isaac, and a ninety-nine year old Abraham laughs out loud, “Will I really have a son when I’m 99, and my wife is 90?” In Genesis 18, God reaffirms this with Sarah and she laughs aloud too. But finally, in Genesis 21, Isaac is born to a delighted husband and wife after 25 years of waiting for God’s first promise to them.

Remember Joseph and how long he waited after being sold into slavery until he was reunited with his family. Think about the Israelites waiting for rescue from Egypt; Moses waiting to see the Promised Land; Noah waiting on the ark; David waiting to be king of Israel; David waiting to build God’s temple (which his son ultimately built); Nehemiah waiting to rebuild Jerusalem; and countless other prophets and people waiting for God’s promises and purposes.

And I go through my day hoping my taxi driver will rush through a yellow light and I get upset when it turns red.  Gary Thomas writes:

Impatience with God seems to be a growing problem for today’s Christian…Many Christians don’t fail; they just quit before they get ripe…

Our attitude as we wait is often the best indicator of what our true motivation is…You can tell if impatience is ruling your spiritual life by how much anger you harbor.

Continually in the Bible we see stories of people called to wait: for years, decades, or generations. Looking back in the history of the world we can also see that much waiting has been done to get us to where we are today.  Abraham Lincoln had 12 major political failures before being elected to the Presidency of the US. And because of his conviction to end slavery and hold the US together, we now have the first black President in our history.  Edison tried more than 9000 different experiments before he created the first successful lightbulb.  Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed.  And the list goes on. It’s interesting to note that most human success is realized in the second half of their lives, not the first.

Instant Fix = Long-Lasting Instant Satisfaction

“I’ve met too many young Christians who mistakenly think that if they’re called, God will ‘open every door,'” Thomas writes, “Being called is no guarantee of quick success.” But here we live in a “microwave society” where everything we want can be had at the touch of a button, or the pop of a pill. I want food, I call the pizza guy; I want happiness, I take Prozac. But what if we weren’t meant to get everything we wanted instantly? After all, who really appreciates an instant fix? Doesn’t that remove from us the ultimate joy of satisfaction when what we’re waiting for is finally realized? After all, “if everything is (instantly) satisfying, then nothing is (truly) satisfying.”

Take anything that humanity struggles with: depression, marriage, kids, sex, being wanted, being needed, fitting in, car, house, job, persistent belly fat, success, money and so on. Now take any one of those things and “fix” it instantly: depression=pills, marriage=live-in-boyfriend, sex=one-night-stand, fitting in=drugs. Great! The problem is fixed, but my heart is only temporarily satisfied. Soon, I’ll need to go out and get another fix just to feel good again. Thomas writes:

For not only does impatience hinder our growth in holiness, prayer, and vocation, but it also inhibits our ability to love others…

Waiting is the portal of hope, a very necessary element of spirituality whenever we face the troubles of this world…

Compare those earlier examples to another few. Think about a new mother who waits for 9 months with a baby growing inside her, who then rejoices and would give her life for the child after birth. Think about the years those mothers (and fathers) wait and watch as their children grow up – as they wait to see what their children will become, and what children their children will have. Think about many countries around the world who waited years, even decades or centuries for freedom. Think about a wrongly accused inmate who waits with hope for the day he will be released. Even think about something far simpler – your last vacation – and think about how you waited, expectantly, hopefully for the time of your trip and the joy you experienced when your waiting at last came to an end.

Now which of those would bring greater joy and longer-lasting satisfaction?

And here I sit…

And here I sit. Waiting, hoping, yet struggling and frustrated. My dreams are huge and my goals innumerable. I have all kinds of plans and hopes for my life: instant fixes, quick releases, and mostly comfortable living. I often feel that everything is so urgent, it must be done yesterday. I don’t like waiting. I particularly don’t like waiting when it seems there’s so much I could/should be doing. I want results, tangible results that I can be satisfied with. But Thomas writes:

God is not merely concerned with results, but also with character – and few things produce character like learning to wait.

So, in my pursuit of God, perhaps I’d best learn to slow down, listen, and take time to wait. After all, there’s a wonderful promise for those who do:

31Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”

~Isaiah 40:31 (New American Standard Bible)

What do you think?

Has God called you to wait on Him for something? How does waiting make you feel? Impatient? Or hopeful?

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