Sunday, August 31, 2014
An Ounce of Prevention: 'Tired of Waiting'
"All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."---Romans 8:22-25(Message)
The title basically says it all. Here's a "warm fuzzy" S-C-A-P:
Why does the line at the grocery store drive you crazy? Why does the traffic jam result in you pounding the dashboard? Why does your spouse feel your irritation when they've made you late? What is it about waiting that makes you mad?
Waiting is hard, I get that. We live in a fallen world and that makes life difficult. But our biggest waiting problem is found inside of us, not outside of us.
There are three heart issues that make waiting a struggle for us:
Waiting, for us, seems meaningless. There's something at the end of the wait, and all we're concerned about is reaching that something. We're rarely concerned about the process of waiting; we just want the result.
If waiting results in a better result - for example, slow cooking a meal to enhance the taste - then the wait doesn't bother us. But think about it: we're still only concerned about the result, in this case, a better tasting meal! We're results-oriented people, so "unnecessary waiting" is a meaningless hassle.
Waiting immediately announces that we're not in control. If we were in control, we wouldn't have to wait! Traffic would move, people would obey our commands, and things would be accomplished immediately.
Imagine how enjoyable life would be if you were in control...actually, life would be very dangerous. But we like to trick ourselves into thinking that we would make a better sovereign than the Sovereign.
We're self-focused and self-absorbed people. We want a comfortable life, free of any pain, obstacles, and delays. If we could have life our way, everything would be predictable, efficient, and practical. But life in a fallen world is far from predictable, and we often have to wait.
The biggest reason we hate to wait is because we love ourselves. Waiting often strips us of something we want, and we respond with anger, irritation, depression, and so on. Like I said before, our waiting problem is always a heart problem before it's ever a fallen world problem.
You're not the only person who has had to wait. In fact, the entire Bible is a story of waiting. It's a major theme coursing through the Scriptures. Think about all the waiting that was done:
Abraham and Sarah waited 75 years for the birth of their promised son.
Israel waited 40 years to get into the Promised Land.
Israel waited (again) in Babylon for their return to rebuild the temple.
The Old Testament prophets waited for the coming of the Messiah.
Billions of Christians around the world now wait in anticipation for the Second Coming of Christ.
You see, everywhere in the Bible, God's children are waiting. You can't read Scripture and conclude that waiting is mistake. For some reason, God has ordained waiting as part of the plan.
What's The Point?
Why do we wait? Here's my thesis: "Waiting, by God's definition, is not an interruption of the plan; waiting is part of the plan."
I've found that there are 6 helpful words that you should associate with waiting:
Waiting is inescapable. This side of eternity, you'll never be able to escape waiting. Sure, for a moment, you might have some control over your circumstances, but by and large, God will call you to wait. Don't try to fight it - it's going to happen.
Waiting is not a punishment; it's mercy. If God wasn't merciful, there would be no waiting. He would meet out His justice immediately and all of us would be condemned. Waiting is a sign of God's mercy (2 Peter 3:9), so be thankful instead of irritated.
Remember how I said yesterday that we hate to wait because it seems meaningless? Well, waiting is far from meaningless to the Lord - it's productive. Waiting is not about what you get at the end of the wait; it's about what you become as you wait.
In a word, this is sanctification. Sometimes I wish I was zapped into Heaven immediately following my conversion. But God has kept me here, waiting for His return. This is not a mistake; God has a productive purpose for my heart during the wait.
God doesn't want you to be waiting with passive frustration; He wants you to actively seek the meaning of the wait. You might not find an immediate and direct answer, but you will find God (Jeremiah 29:13). If waiting is productive, and it is, God encourages you to be an active and joyful participant.
Waiting means that something good is coming. The good things that result may seem invisible or a long way off, but God is good (Mark 10:18) and His plan is good (Jeremiah 29:11). You can wait with hope, even in pain, because you know that something good is coming.
One day, waiting will end (Revelation 21:4). Jesus will return and the ultimate purpose of waiting will be accomplished. You can rest today, even in a fallen world, because you know that waiting doesn't exist Forever.
How Are You Doing?
Ask yourself this question: "How are you doing in the middle of the wait?" Are you angry? Are you frustrated? Are you irritated? Are you discouraged?
God is calling you to wait because He is doing things in you, through you, and around you that are very good. He has not forgotten you; He calls you to wait precisely because He loves you.
Waiting is changing you and helping you to be a tool of change in others who are waiting too. Find joy in the wait.
Love is patient. (I Corinthians 13:4-NCV)
Love God *and yourself* and in the context of this message, your future husband enough...