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Win Within the Wait

By SHAYNE PHILANDER
PUBLISHED 18 APRIL 2020

One of the most common things in the Bible is God making his people wait and making them wait on him. David waited 20 years to be crowned as king. No wonder his Psalms frequently speaks about having to wait. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord: be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord”. Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry”. Not to even mention Noah’s waiting for rain or Hannah’s for a son. The Lord makes his people wait on him and his unfolding plan. In other words, as far as the Bible is concerned waiting on God is not primarily to frustrate one’s superficial plans, but more a realization that God is achieving his own plans.

Currently the church, as much as the world, is in waiting mode. People are in isolation, socially distant and in lockdown. And the instruction is to wait. Most are waiting to go back to work, to see their friends and family and do church. And for a twenty-first-century consumeristic and fast-pace culture this feels like a curse. Mainly, because no one is in control and there is a sense of powerlessness. However, apart from people’s desire to have ‘normal’ back, assuming normal is what will be back. The waiting makes one wonder about God’s bigger plan and purpose. Why God is making his people wait?

Strangely, the answer to this question may have less to do with what lies beyond the wait. And more to do with what lies within the wait. Could it be that God is rebooting his church, teaching and reminding them of things forgotten? And not necessarily withholding from them things to come? Simply put, is the church looking at it the wrong way, thinking they are missing something; when in fact, they are gaining something? Is the lockdown the gracious plan of God at work for the good of his church? For if to wait is now the new normal and most likely part of God’s gracious plan, and perhaps the necessary help the church and Christian needs. The aim should be to recognize and capitalize on how to put this period to good use.

Here the apostles waiting come to mind. After Jesus’ resurrection the disciples found themselves in a time of waiting in the Upper Room (Acts 1). Luke depicts that to wait was necessary for them. Jesus instructs the apostles, “Wait for the promise…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (4-5). They had to wait, not for waiting sake, but for wisdom sake. They would receive the Holy Spirit but there were still some pivotal things left that they needed to comprehend. For instance, they failed to understand the kingdom to be spiritual and powerful by nature, not political and physical. They asked him, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel”. And Jesus answering. “…It is not for you to know the times and seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. Thereby describing the kingdom, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you (6-8). Referring to both the Holy Spirit’s spiritual salvific mission and their ability to preach the kingdom in power. In other words, the wait was needed for them to first grasp what the kingdom is and what it is not before the Holy Spirit would come.

Moreover, they had to resume their prayer lives while waiting. “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer (14). And also, they had to meditate on the Scriptures as Peter pointed them back to the fact that, “The Scriptures had to be fulfilled…[because] it is written in the Book of Psalms…” (16, 20). They even had to rebuild their team after Judas’ betrayal and suicide. “And the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (26). All to say that, God’s plan often includes waiting. Granting one the opportunity to learn, be reminded of truth and grow in areas forgotten or neglected. James Montgomery Boice says that, “When God makes us wait, we think, things have gone wrong. Only to find that it is a period of preparation, which is what waiting times are for”. Thus, God makes his people wait not for waiting sake, but for them to come to terms with why they need to wait in the first place.

Therefore, the implications of this truth are very relevant for the church and believer given the time of waiting in which they find themselves. The prospect of the next church service together seems to be in the distant future. And homegroups and other ministries may need to familiarize themselves with online meetings. For now, God’s people, as everyone else are waiting. However, they ought to be waiting God’s way, rediscovering his plan for his church and themselves. Simply put, the world may be in lockdown arbitrarily, but not the church, because God never does meaningless things. Therefore, rather than wondering and guessing why God is making one wait, proclaim that he is making his people win within the wait. 

 

One of the most common things in the Bible is God making his people wait and making them wait on him. David waited 20 years to be crowned as king. No wonder his Psalms frequently speaks about having to wait. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord: be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord”. Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry”. Not to even mention Noah’s waiting for rain or Hannah’s for a son. The Lord makes his people wait on him and his unfolding plan. In other words, as far as the Bible is concerned waiting on God is not primarily to frustrate one’s superficial plans, but more a realization that God is achieving his own plans.

Currently the church, as much as the world, is in waiting mode. People are in isolation, socially distant and in lockdown. And the instruction is to wait. Most are waiting to go back to work, to see their friends and family and do church. And for a twenty-first-century consumeristic and fast-pace culture this feels like a curse. Mainly, because no one is in control and there is a sense of powerlessness. However, apart from people’s desire to have ‘normal’ back, assuming normal is what will be back. The waiting makes one wonder about God’s bigger plan and purpose. Why God is making his people wait?

Strangely, the answer to this question may have less to do with what lies beyond the wait. And more to do with what lies within the wait. Could it be that God is rebooting his church, teaching and reminding them of things forgotten? And not necessarily withholding from them things to come? Simply put, is the church looking at it the wrong way, thinking they are missing something; when in fact, they are gaining something? Is the lockdown the gracious plan of God at work for the good of his church? For if to wait is now the new normal and most likely part of God’s gracious plan, and perhaps the necessary help the church and Christian needs. The aim should be to recognize and capitalize on how to put this period to good use.

Here the apostles waiting come to mind. After Jesus’ resurrection the disciples found themselves in a time of waiting in the Upper Room (Acts 1). Luke depicts that to wait was necessary for them. Jesus instructs the apostles, “Wait for the promise…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (4-5). They had to wait, not for waiting sake, but for wisdom sake. They would receive the Holy Spirit but there were still some pivotal things left that they needed to comprehend. For instance, they failed to understand the kingdom to be spiritual and powerful by nature, not political and physical. They asked him, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel”. And Jesus answering. “…It is not for you to know the times and seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. Thereby describing the kingdom, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you (6-8). Referring to both the Holy Spirit’s spiritual salvific mission and their ability to preach the kingdom in power. In other words, the wait was needed for them to first grasp what the kingdom is and what it is not before the Holy Spirit would come.

Moreover, they had to resume their prayer lives while waiting. “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer (14). And also, they had to meditate on the Scriptures as Peter pointed them back to the fact that, “The Scriptures had to be fulfilled…[because] it is written in the Book of Psalms…” (16, 20). They even had to rebuild their team after Judas’ betrayal and suicide. “And the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (26). All to say that, God’s plan often includes waiting. Granting one the opportunity to learn, be reminded of truth and grow in areas forgotten or neglected. James Montgomery Boice says that, “When God makes us wait, we think, things have gone wrong. Only to find that it is a period of preparation, which is what waiting times are for”. Thus, God makes his people wait not for waiting sake, but for them to come to terms with why they need to wait in the first place.

Therefore, the implications of this truth are very relevant for the church and believer given the time of waiting in which they find themselves. The prospect of the next church service together seems to be in the distant future. And homegroups and other ministries may need to familiarize themselves with online meetings. For now, God’s people, as everyone else are waiting. However, they ought to be waiting God’s way, rediscovering his plan for his church and themselves. Simply put, the world may be in lockdown arbitrarily, but not the church, because God never does meaningless things. Therefore, rather than wondering and guessing why God is making one wait, proclaim that he is making his people win within the wait. 

 

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