It has been calculated that if we add up the amount of time we spend waiting in a day, say waiting for for the kettle to boil, waiting in a Supermarket queue, waiting on the phone, we spend over two hours a day simply waiting for some thing to happen. At the end of our lives, we will have spent six years and three months simply waiting. If you live in Gibraltar you would need to add at least another ten years waiting in the frontier queue!
I suppose the question now should be – what do we do with that
time? Because no-one likes waiting, waiting time is often seen as
wasted time. Whenever I go on holiday I need at least a couple of
days to 'wind down' into holiday mode. I have to spend the first day
or so telling myself not to feel guilty about doing nothing.
But God has a different kind of wisdom.
Way back in the book of Genesis, Abraham received a promise from God, a promise that his descendants would be like the stars of the sky, and even though his wife had never borne children and was around seventy-five years old at the time, yet and we are told that Abraham believed God. Abraham is presented to all believers as an example of faith, as the example of faith. But Abraham applied the wisdom of the world to the promises of God and got it wrong. Because Abraham could not wait, so he indeed had a child, but not with his wife, he had a a child with Hagar - Ishmael, the father of the Arab race,
The Bible is full of stories of people who could not wait, of
people who tried to go out and do God's work in their own strength,
and suffered the consequences.
In the letter to the Hebrews we read of a whole list of people
who learned to wait on God. After telling us about Abraham and Moses
the writer to the Hebrews goes on:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of
witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that
so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race
marked out for us.” (Heb 11:32-12:1 NIV)
I need to add a word of caution here, a caveat if you like. As preachers we have a responsibility to preach the whole counsel of God. I am not saying don't listen to others. Don't lets become like those Christians who say “I don't need to listen to anyone, I get my orders direct from God, I am running the race with perseverance because everyone is against me and I don't need to listen to any of them!” That's not perseverance, that is being stubborn, and stubbornness is a form of pride, I did it my way”. Throughout the Bible we are told to listen to one another, submit even, to one another.
But bearing that in mind, let's go back to running the race with
As any mother of young children can confirm, kids never seem to get tired, they can run around the house all day long, they seem to have an inexhaustible source of energy! But even they get tired eventually. Isaiah says that those who trust in the LORD (KJV says those who wait on the LORD – trusting in God and waiting on God are the same thing) will find new strength, those who have learned to wait on God can run and not get tired.
Waiting time in our society is often seen as the equivalent of wasting time, but for God's children time is wasted when we try to do things in our own strength. We will never know how much time was wasted by Moses when he tried to do God's work in his own strength, or by Abraham when he tried to apply the wisdom of the world to the work of God, how much time and energy is wasted, how much unnecessary suffering and anxiety can be caused when we run the race on our own.
“Do not be anxious about anything,” says Paul, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
This is not our life, this is not our project, this is not our
church, it is God's church, His project, our life is His life. The
race we run has been set before us.
But there's more Isaiah says that not only will those who wait on
the LORD renew their strength, but that they will soar high on wings
But eagles don't get up there on their own. An eagle soaring high
does not flap his wings, straining and trying to get higher, eagles
spread out their wings and let the wind and the air currents carry
them higher, and higher, and higher – far higher than even their own
majestic wings could possibly take them.
Here' another caveat. Waiting is not idleness. Some of the hardest working people I know are called waiters. “Is everything all right , sir? Can I get you anything, sir? What is your order, sir?” Waiting on God is serving God. We are here to do His will. “Is everything all right , Lord? Can I get you anything, Lord? What is your order, Lord?”
God's time is not our time, his ways are not our ways. Waiting does not come naturally to many of us, as much as we might hate it, it is a key part of God's purpose to teach us, to strengthen us, to lift us high. A another key part of God's ways of teaching us is listening, listening is a part of writing, a part of trusting, many of us suffer disappointments because we don't listen. Robert, our invited guest, spoke last week about false expectations. The difference between false expectations and faith is, faith listens and waits for God, a false expectation only listens to itself, what we want, not what God wants.
Are you waiting for anything this morning? Don't lose heart, God
knows all about it. And what's more as you wait for the answer, know
that you will be growing, as you rest in his presence, he will lift
Minister: Revd. Fidel Patron