Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Waiting On God


I have a problem with patience. It’s not my strong suit. I hate waiting in lines. I hate waiting on anything. I’m sometimes guilty of finishing people’s sentence when they are slow talkers. Patience is definitely not my thing. Nor does my patience seem to improve with age, in fact quite the opposite. The older I get, the more I struggle with waiting. The Lord still has some refining to do on me in that area. I’m no better at waiting on the Lord than I am anything else. His word is quite clear on this subject. He instructs us over and over to wait on him, to be patient and wait on his answers and his solutions. The Psalms are full of his instruction. Psalms 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord...” plain and simple. In Psalms 130: 6 the psalmist says he waits for the Lord, “more than the watchman for the morning”.  Psalms 147:11 says the Lord favors those who, “… wait for His lovingkindness”. God expects us to wait. He expects us to be patient. He will reward us if we are faithful and faith includes waiting for him… waiting for him to answer or to act in our lives. Isaiah 40 proclaims the coming of the Messiah (Holy One, vs.25) and ends with these words of comfort, “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary”.

That’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it? We want God to answer when we call, and he did. He sent his son to save us. The world waited for the coming of the Messiah, and in the fullness of time, God sent him. He sent him when the time was right, when everything was set. When all of the other pieces of the puzzle were in place, then he placed the missing piece and revealed his Son, Jesus the Christ.

 I’ve been reading the Christmas story again in scripture. I love to read it again and again and look for new layers of wisdom as God tells me the story, as a father tells a child an old favorite story. In Luke 1 we read the story of the birth of John the Baptist, who would announce the coming of Christ. Luke tells us that his father and mother were righteous and faithful to God (vs. 6). His name was Zacharias and he was a Levite. She was also from the tribe of Levi and was from the lineage of Aaron (vs. 5). Luke tells us the story of God’s revelation to Zacharias. While he was performing his duties in the temple, burning incense, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him that God had heard his prayers, and he would have a son. Now Zacharias was  old, as was his wife Elizabeth. They were well beyond the normal age for bearing children (vs. 7). How long do you suppose it had been since Zacharias had prayed for a son? If you were a man, who was married and wished to have children, you would of course pray for children, if you were a man of God. How long and how often would you pray for this… every day? How many years would you pray? I’m sure that both Zacharias and Elizabeth had prayed many hundreds of times, maybe thousands of times for many years, but now they are old, and they no longer expect to have children. They must have assumed that God didn’t want them to have children. Perhaps he was punishing them for some failure or sin in their lives. I’m fairly certain that this idea had been suggested and discussed by their friends, family and neighbors, perhaps behind their backs, perhaps to their faces. Being barren and childless would have carried with it a stigma in the society that they lived in. There was disgrace associated with being childless according to Luke (1:25), and I think we can assume that both Zacharias and Elizabeth had stopped waiting on the Lord to hear that prayer. They had given up on God in that respect, and even though they remained faithful, they no longer expected God to answer that prayer. So what a shock and surprise it must have been when God announced to them that He  had heard their prayers, prayers long forgotten, but not forgotten by God. He had answered their prayers in his own good time, when the time was right, and now they would be parents. Not only would they be parents, but their son would be a prophet, and the prophet who would announce the coming of the Messiah, in the spirit of Elijah (vs. 17).

We can’t really blame poor Zacharias for his failure of belief, for which he was temporarily struck dumb by Gabriel (vs. 20). Haven’t we done the same thing? Haven’t we doubted God? Now, I realize that angels probably haven’t made any announcements to you lately, nor have they visited me. But we are still guilty of giving up on God at times. Not only have we stopped praying, like Zacharias, sometimes we have even forgotten what it was that we had prayed for. But God does not forget. Nothing slips his mind. He hears our prayers, and he will answer them, in his own good time, in the fullness of time, when the time is right.

What are you praying for these days? What did you use to pray for? What did you pray for when you were young, and life was full of promise, and everything seemed possible? What did you pray for then, but you don’t now? Now that you are old, and maybe a little disappointed in the way that things turned out. Maybe you never met that Mr./Ms. Wonderful. Maybe you didn’t make it to the pros. Maybe you didn’t earn your first million before you were thirty. Maybe you haven’t earned your first million at all, and it doesn’t look likely, unless that lottery ticket pays out. Have you given up on God? Did your particular wish get lost in the shuffle? Did God forget? Worse yet, maybe he just doesn’t care.

Please, please don’t give up on God. Just you wait. He cares. He cared enough to send his Son to save us. “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman…”- Galatians 4:4. “”And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth”- John 1:14. He doesn’t forget, even if we do. He remembers every prayer that we have ever prayed, and he keeps them all. He wants us to have every good thing that we need. He will not fail us or forget us or accidently leave us behind, or leave us out. He can make anything happen that he wants to happen, and he wants good things to happen for us.

 Luke 1 has another very important lesson to teach us on this subject. The angel Gabriel also appears to Mary, and tells her that she will conceive (miraculously) and give birth to a child, and her child will be the Messiah (vs. 28-35). Gabriel then informs Mary that even her cousin Elizabeth is pregnant (vs. 36). Her cousin Elizabeth, who was too old to have a baby, was also going to have a baby because of God’s power, and then God (thru Gabriel) tells Mary something very, very important. He says, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (vs. 37). Nothing is impossible with God! Mary needed to hear those words, and so do we. God is good and faithful and he loves us and he doesn’t forget and he can do anything. Nothing is impossible with God. We need to write those words on our hearts. We need to get up every day and say them to ourselves and to those around us, because they are true, and we need to live our lives like we believe that they are true.

 We need to know him (thru his Word and Spirit). We need to follow him (thru his Son). We need to obey him. We need to trust him, and finally, the hardest part… at least for me, we need to wait for him. We need to wait for him in our lives and in our faith and in our prayers.

He’s waiting for us too… imagine that! God is waiting for you and for me. He’s standing close by, waiting. The words of the old hymn tell us this.

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

You see, God has given us a choice. He wants us to choose him. He wants us to choose to love him and obey him. He won’t act in our lives unless we first choose him. If we don’t want him to be in our lives, then he won’t force it. He will allow us to be on our own. But the invitation stands, as long as we live and breath, God is waiting and watching for us.

The bible tells us that God is waiting for us too. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door; I will come into him, and will dine with him, and he with me”.

The bible says, in Zechariah 10:8, “I will whistle for them to gather them together, For I have redeemed them”. Like a shepherd whistles for his sheep in the darkness. He’s calling us. He’s waiting for you and for me, to answer his call. He wants to be with us. He wants to know us. He came a long way to find us in the darkness. We don’t have to wait anymore. We just have to open the door. We just have to answer his call. He’s waiting.