Waiting

Have you ever noticed what happens when you’re in a hurry? Doesn’t it seem like all the slower-moving people come out to play?

Take, for example, driving. Pick any ordinary day of the week. You’ll have the everyday drivers out on the roadways doing the same thing you are. But pick a day that you’ve been in a hurry, maybe running late for an appointment, and it seems like all the slow drivers are in front of you.

Tell me I’m wrong!

Or what about at the grocery store. Most days, it’s all chill. Until you’re rushing through the store and don’t have time to wait. Those days you’ll find the store packed with people just taking their slow time. And it’s not an age thing! The store is full of people moving slow when you need to move fast.

And what happens? You have to wait.

No one likes to wait.

Not me. Not you. I’m not even sure Jesus liked to wait. Ok, so I might be wrong there. But I’m sure he struggled with a bit of impatience! I mean, He was fully human while being fully God. So He’s gotta know what it’s like, right?

Anyway, while waiting is something no one likes to do, it’s a discipline that’s slowly eroding. Here are a couple examples we all can probably relate to.

I’m all for fast Internet! Check out this statistic. Forty-seven percent of those browsing the web expect the page to load in two seconds or less. Forty percent will abandon the page after no more than one more second. Yep, three seconds and they’re gone.

Let’s now go to a brick-and-mortar store. I love Amazon, but sometimes I need a physical store. And the stores with the self-checkouts are fantastic! Love those things! Check out this stat. On average, consumers believe that about 5 minutes in line is acceptable. If they think it’ll be longer than 5-10 minutes, they’ll drop their goods and head for the door. When you’re in line at the BMV and your birthday is in September, this creates a problem. (Umm…Winter is for lovers). You can’t put anything back and go to another store. Hence the reason for a lot of grumpiness!

Waiting builds resilience

It’s a safe bet no one likes to wait. And that’s why we’re going to spend the month of May looking at resilience. And the discipline of waiting is a crucial element that builds resilience in our character. In fact, just a quick browse through several well-known stories in Scripture reveals that God does some of His best work in us while we’re waiting.

It’s difficult to wait. And I’m talking about weightier things than web pages and grocery store lines. What about the heavier items in life? What happens when we’re waiting for a doctor’s answer or our turn to “step up to the plate” in our job? What do we do when we’re waiting to find our significant other or waiting during a financial crisis? Or when we’ve been mistreated.

Or we’re just lonely?

We aren’t the first to struggle with all these questions. And that’s good news!

Jesus’ disciples have just been in a whirlwind of emotions on the heels of the cross. They experienced significant times when they had to wait. They’ve witnessed their Jesus beaten, crucified, and buried with all their hopes in a single night. Three days they waited. But had no idea what they were waiting for. All they knew was that Jesus was gone.

When Jesus stood again amongst them, it must have been incredible! They have their Jesus back, and Jesus hung with his disciples for another 40 days. But Luke records that Jesus wasn’t sticking around for much longer. No, there was something much better coming.

But they would need to wait for it.

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. Acts 1:4–5 NASB

So once again, the disciples waited. They were confused, I’m sure. No one could predict or guess what it would be like to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. In fact, the following couple of verses tells us the disciples were still focused on Jesus restoring Israel. And Jesus was doing that, just not in the way they expected.

The rest of the story goes something like this; Jesus ascends into heaven, and the disciples have a prayer meeting in the Upper Room. They select Matthias as Judas’ replacement and continue to remain together in one place in prayer…waiting…not precisely sure what they are waiting on.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a noise like a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And tongues that looked like fire appeared to them, distributing themselves, and a tongue rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…

God did some of his best work while they were waiting. The disciples received the Holy Spirit, the very power to fill them, empower them, produce fruit in their lives, sanctify them, and intercede for them. He would be their source of power, unity, and helps. He would guard them, lead them, and teach them. In short, the Ministry of the Holy Spirit would propel them into the front lines of what we call today Christianity. They received what they needed when they waited. And that built resilience that still impacts us today.

Resilience is getting back up again

You and I receive what we need to be resilient when we wait. Sometimes it is waiting in times of prayer. We’ve been knocked down by the unexpected in life. We want the quick fix, but good things usually don’t come instantly. They take a bit of work – God’s work!

And getting back up again looks like listening more to God. Prayer is talking to God, but often it’s better if we close our mouths and open our hearts to hear him. When we focus our attention on God, we find we do, in fact, believe we can trust him. We become more aware of his presence and power that is right there to help us get back up again. Through the Holy Spirit, while waiting, we learn better how to surrender – to let go of the things we can’t fix or control. And we find ourselves empowered to…get back up again.

And for the record, God is ready to help you get back up again! He doesn’t take a break or grow weary of you or anybody else! Listen to what Isaiah writes.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 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. Isaiah 40:28–31 NASB

Yet those who WAIT on the lord gain. Wait…and ruminate on that for just a moment.

When we wait, we prepare the environment for the Holy Spirit to come, minister to us, give us what we need, and make us more resilient. We can get back up again.

I like the phrase wait and ruminate. It’s stopping, preparing our souls for God, and thinking deeply as we listen for his insight. His desire is to grow in us resilience. He knows better than us that we’ll get knocked down.

They tried to do that with the cross. How did that work out for them?

Our resilience doesn’t come from anything we manifest ourselves. It comes when we choose to wait, to give space for the Holy Spirit to come and minister to us, giving us what we need to…

Get back up again!

You are loved!

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