Friday, October 28, 2005

Waiting

WAITING -Second only to suffering, waiting may be the greatest teacher in godliness, maturity and genuine spirituality most of us ever encounter. Waiting is not a passive exercise, biding time while we engage in some sort of diversion. Waiting is not just what we have to do until we get what we hope for. It is part of the process of becoming what we hope for. It is a faith journey. Humility and hope are the essentials of waiting. But it is humility that makes hope possible. Until we are clear that it is God, not us, who is the Master and we, not God, who are the servant, we will feel our rights have been violated whenever we are forced to wait. We will resent our waiting and find every rationalization to take matters into our own hands. In other words, we can't hope in God until we have ceased to hope in ourselves." ( A quote from Ben Patterson book Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silence”)

A recent discussion with a friend brought this quote back to my mind. How many of us actually enjoy waiting? In a society where everything is instant – instant food, instant coffee, waiting seems so contrary to our human nature. It goes against our natural inclinations. After all, how many times have you been stuck in a traffic jam and enjoyed it. I know I don’t. That infamous fruit of the spirit ‘patience’ goes right out the window during times like that. But alas, God calls us to wait upon Him, to not run ahead but so often we are tempted to ‘take control’ of situations. Why is that? Is it because we feel out of control? Is it because we detest uncertainty and we must know and know NOW? Is it because we feel somehow waiting serves no purpose? Ben Patterson makes an interesting point, that waiting is not something that is passive but rather it is part of the process of becoming what we hope for. It is a faith journey. Or as Hudson Taylor the founder of OMF said, ‘waiting time is not wasted time.’ Do we truly believe this? I think we struggle with waiting because in our limited mindset we see it as ‘wasted time, we cannot see the ‘fruit’ that is being born and developed within us. We are people who need to see the visible before we believe or at least a glimpse of it. Yet in the process of waiting, God is doing things to our character, whether it be transforming our attitudes, or mindset or beliefs, clarifying the confusion, He is refining us and strengthening those broken areas within us. He is orchestrating events as we wait; He the Master weaver, is creating a new pattern within us; polishing the rough diamond within us so that at the right time, we will shine the way He created us to be. Truly as we wait, we are becoming more of who He intended us to be. It is a faith journey because when we cannot see the visible fruit, we are apt to give up and toss the towel in, but if we believe that every good and perfect gift comes from Him, if we keep persevering and running the race that He has set before us, then waiting becomes a gift to our souls. It enlarges our spirits such that we are truly being transformed more in His likeness.

This all sounds good but how does one live this out in a practical way. How does one wait actively before the Lord. I am reminded of the words that my pastor once said ‘be faithful to the process and leave the outcome to the Lord.’ Our responsibility is to the ‘process of waiting.’ What does that look like? What can we do?

1) Active waiting involves ‘being still before God.“ It takes much more strength to be still than to do something or say something that may have irreversible consequences. To ‘be still’ before Him is to seek His face, to pray, to meditate upon His word. To be still is to recognize that God is my portion and I will rest in His faithfulness. The psalmists say:.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7)

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. (Psalm 5:3)

I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."


2) Active waiting involves ‘hope.” When we stop having ‘hope’ we are more likely to move into a stage of resignation or despair. To wait in hope is to wait in anticipation and to wait in safety. To wait in hope is to have the opportunity to experience more of God’s unfailing love and to know that our waiting is never in vain because through it God is bringing ‘full redemption.’ He is bringing into being things that we cannot see, He is bringing the invisible into the visible.

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. (Psalm 130:5-7)

3) Active waiting involves ‘faith’. To believe God’s promises even when the odds are stacked against us and the darkness surrounds us. I love this verse from Romans 4 about Abraham below. O Lord give us such faith in You that we are always fully persuaded and fully convinced that You will do what You have promised.

18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:18, 20-21)

Benefits of waiting. God blesses us with compassion. God will act on our behalf.

4) Active waiting involves ‘humility’. Humility acknowledges that we are dependent on God for the outcome. As a person who likes to be ‘in control’ God in these past few years has used many people and many circumstances to remind me, that He is God and not I. That He is in control and not I. He rules, He leads and I am to follow. Paterson is right, until we are clear that it is God, not us, who is the Master and we, not God, who are the servant, we will feel our rights have been violated whenever we are forced to wait. We will resent our waiting and find every rationalization to take matters into our own hands. Waiting goes to the heart of our individual ‘rights’ and ‘entitlement’. Time and time again, the lessons of life present opportunities to develop His mindset of ‘waiting’ which is to recognize that I am totally His, bought by Him at a costly price. For those of us who have a strong independent streak, waiting challenges us to depend on God at new levels that perhaps we are not prepared for or that we do not want. Yet it is when we humble ourselves and acknowledge that we are at the mercy of His sovereignty, that we really have no rights, that we are not in control, it is only then by trusting Him implicitly and believing that He can do more for us when we wait than we can do for ourselves through our actions can we become the people he created us to be. When I ‘violate’ His law of waiting, by not humbling myself before Him and taking things into my own hands through irrational or impulsive decisions, I see the ugly consequences of my sin.

I am sure there are many other aspects of waiting. But one of the benefits we receive as we go through this process is what Isaiah wrote. Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18 To see more of His compassion and His heart is something I so desperately need as I wait for Him to act on my behalf.

Father I thank you that You act on behalf of those who wait for you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4) May you give to each of us who are waiting, whether it be waiting for a new job, waiting for restoration of broken relationships, waiting for a spouse, waiting for healing, waiting for the clouds around us to clear, O Lord, give us faith, hope, humility and the ability to rest in You and in so doing, we may grow in godliness and maturity in You.

3 comments:

hyunky said...

hi ljcheong! what a pleasant surprise to see your comment on my xnga! will you be switching over too? (Hamster is half way there).

such faithful posts you have here. waiting is something i must remind myself to do.

hyunky said...

oh, by the way! yes, there is a kalbi recipe in the cookbook. and YES come be our guinea pig - how about some time in Q1 2006?

Anonymous said...

sorry...your blog name still looks like lisa dog food....