The Art of Waiting

Psalm 40:1  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.


One of the most difficult things to learn is the fine art of waiting, particularly when you are younger.  We are naturally wired to want to satisfy a desire immediately or at least meet the want quickly.

Athletes must necessarily learn this important discipline of waiting.  Most sports require thousands of hours of practise to “master” them (yet even the best in a given sport will agree that you never actually master the sport).

In my son’s pursuit of the track & field decathlon one of the last events he had to pick up was the pole vault.  He shared with me that it has been one of the most challenging and often frustrating things he has ever done.  His coach spent considerable time teaching him the very basics including how to hold the pole how to run with it.  My son then took very small steps each week with only small incremental progressions beginning with planting the pole into the vault box, then simply swaying into the pit, and then learning to swing and lift your legs straight into the air.  After many months he had not even gone over the bar yet and was certainly growing a bit restless.  One day his coach couldn’t be at practise due to poor weather conditions and just my son and a senior pole vaulter were there.  The older vaulter said that he just learned by going over the bar and suggested my son just try it.  He did try it and it was an absolute disaster.  After leaving that practise he said to me that he was not yet ready to go over the bar and understood why he needed to be patient.  His coach had much to teach him and his coach would know when my son was ready to take on the bar.

Our Christian walk can often be very similar.  Often there are things we yearn for; perhaps it is a special job, a special person in our life, or making it on a certain team or to a particular competition.  We pray to God and ask that he come into our situation and supply our needs or remove a barrier that is there, and yet it just doesn’t happen.  We have options at this time, we can wait on the Lord or we can manipulate the situation and try to make it happen.  And we may have success on our own in getting what we want, but if it is not God’s timing then it is manipulation and we will not experience the fullness of what God desired.

God doesn’t keep things from us because he is some cosmic tyrant.  God loves us, knows us, understands what is best for us and he knows how we can best assist him in furthering his kingdom.  David understood this and chose to wait patiently on the Lord.  The original Hebrew word here actually suggested he “waited and waited”.  And after waiting patiently, his Father in heaven did not disappoint him.  He heard David’s cry and in his time he “lifted [him] out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set [his] feet on a rock and gave [him] a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2).

As mature Christian disciples we need to learn to praise God in our time of waiting on him and ask God to reveal what it is he wants to do in our lives during this time.  Through our times of waiting God can develop some very important characteristics in our lives.  It is in these times that God can sanctify us so that we can better resemble him.  Ironically, it is in these times where we feel we are doing nothing that God can grow the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). Looking at this list of fruits you can understand how waiting, more than receiving, can more effectively grow these fruits.  However, the choice remains ours.  We can choose to wait patiently with thanksgiving or we can choose to grumble or choose to manipulate situations to try to get what we want now.  Choose the former and watch God do mighty things in your life.  It may take a while to see the fruit, but be assured they will grow.

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