The Waiting Game
I remember being 17, applying for colleges, and then waiting for endless days and nights to find out if I was accepted. The future was intimidating, unknown, and beyond my control. Once I was accepted, I began waiting again for the long months that separated me from starting my new life in college.
College was exciting for a time, but soon I began looking ahead again. When would I get married? Where would I live? What kind of career would I have?
The thrill of big life changes is both exciting and scary. Thinking about all the things that may go right in the next 5 years and may go wrong is an easy way to escape the mundane day-to-day, no matter how old we are. But it also can be a time-waster and quite the emotional roller coaster. Will I get that promotion? Or maybe I’ll have twins! What if we win that trip to Hawaii? Maybe the economy will crash again. What am I going to do when my car breaks down for good? What if I’m unable to get pregnant?
It’s easy to think the next big thing will be the one thing that finally gives us ultimate peace and the ability to sleep at night. But we’re never going to get peace that way. Rather, that kind of peace can only come from finding our peace in the person and promises of God, and then living faithfully in response. As we do this, we are waiting for something much bigger…
God's Plan Will Prevail
God promises us good things (Ps. 23:6; Rom. 8:28 James 1:17). And what he promises will surely be accomplished (Heb. 10:23). I, however, tend to not always accomplish my own plans. I’m old enough to know my plans and will alone aren’t enough to make something – or anything – happen. But sometimes I’m tempted to think that chaos runs my life, rather than the Lord. Nothing could be further from the truth! God is implementing his plan at all times. Proverbs 19:21 says “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” And God knows the future, “remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’” (Is.46:9-10). Nothing can stop his good and perfect will from ruling our lives, and everything will come about according to his appointed timing.
God’s ultimate plan has been unfolding over the course of history. After the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden came the first promise of a savior who would crush the serpent (Gen. 3:15). Then for generations and generations people died in their sins as humanity waited. After the flood, God approached Abraham and reaffirmed the promise of a coming descendant who would bless all the nations of the world (Gen. 12:13). Then what? Generations upon generations waited for the promised seed of Abraham. 1,000 years later the Lord established David as king over his people, and God promised David (and his people) a descendant who would rule forever (2 Sam 7:16). This was not just any ruler, but would be a ruler greater than David himself (Ps. 110:1-4). Finally, 1,000 years later, Jesus came to bring his kingdom to earth. Finally, God gave his children – he gave you and me - the Messiah himself. He died to set us free from sin and death. God was always working, accomplishing his plans, for millennia. God works through the waiting.
Comfort and Economic Stability Are Not the Goal
Our culture values stability, pleasure, and comfort. It can be overwhelming to see what feels like pitiful numbers in our 401(k) accounts. But God doesn’t promise us financial well-being. He promises to make us more like Jesus (check out 1 Thess. 4:3, 5:18; Phil. 1:6; 1 Cor. 1:8). I may never own a brand new car, or retire in Florida, but I’ll certainly spend eternity on the New Earth with Jesus, and that is better by far.
For millennia, the people of God waited for the Messiah, just as desperately as we await his return! We live in the tension between Jesus’ first and second coming. In a true and epic sense, our whole lives are building up to the final reveal of Christ’s vindication. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). God’s timing is perfect, and until the time is right our job is to share the love and hope of Jesus with those yet to be saved. Then, when God’s plans are fulfilled, we’ll be resurrected to spend eternity on a New Earth, one without the suffering, sin and discontent, and with all the beauty, excitement, and joy we can imagine. As Edward Donnelly put it, “Throughout eternity we will live full and truly human lives, exploring and managing God’s creation to his glory. Fascinating vistas will unfold before us as we learn to serve God in a renewed universe.”
Find Joy in the Work of Our Hands
How do we wait for these great and life-changing things? By trusting God, and keeping his commands:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
We can learn from Jesus, who had the ultimate life changing circumstance to wait for: death on the cross, securing victory over sin and death for all who trust in him, and his own physical resurrection. What did he do until that day? He served faithfully and joyfully, as an example for us all. And because of his sacrifice, we’re able to wait for the fulfillment of all God’s promises in the same way Christ anticipated his death and resurrection on the cross.
Instead of dreaming or fretting about the future, we are able to spend the day productively serving the Lord. By the Spirit, you love others by being a faithful employee, loving spouse, encouraging friend, joyful servant around the house, a devoted person of prayer, an evangelical neighbor, and so much more! In what ways is the Lord asking you to live faithfully as you wait?
The way to redeem waiting is to be faithful today and have confidence in the Lord for whatever may come tomorrow. Look to Jesus, as the one who has come, who will come, and will enable you to live faithfully until that day.