Do you count the items the person in front of you has in their cart in the grocery store express lane? Do you honk your horn at people if they don’t smoke their tires the second the traffic light turns green? Do you ever pass slower drivers on the right and give them the evil eye as you go by? Do you line surf at Walmart? If you answered yes to these questions, you, my friend, have a wait problem.
You hate to wait. Do not be alarmed. Most of us suffer from this condition. Our national anthem isn’t The Star Spangled Banner. It’s Are We There Yet.
Any waiting is hard. But the hardest is when you are waiting for God. We wait for answers, direction and guidance. We wait for healing, relief and hope. We wait for deliverance, intervention and peace. What are you waiting for?
We’re like the apostles in Acts 1. They had witnessed some amazing things. Jesus was fresh from his stunning comeback victory over death. He had been telling them for ages that the Kingdom was near. For forty days he put the final touches on their teaching. Finally, they ask, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Don’t miss their urgency. “At . . . this . . . time!” They are ready. They are set.
But Jesus says . . . “Wait.”
Jesus is blunt. The first thing he tells them is that God’s timing is none of their business. “It is not for you to know.” I’m sure that was hard for them to hear and, perhaps, even harder for us. We do all we can to manage, save and schedule time. We make appointments, create agendas and print out itineraries. I can tell you where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing next Tuesday, the following Saturday; November 7, 14 and 30 and December 13, 21 and 30. I know that I have calendar commitments in August, 2019.
But as in control of my schedule as I try to be, I have to agree with King David – “my times are in your hands,” (Psalm 31:14). At any moment, my carefully planned schedule can be sped up, slowed down or completely interrupted. Faith doesn’t just mean that I trust God to do what he promised; it means I trust his timing as well. So how do we wait well? What do you do while you wait for clarity, for your vision to clear, for the answer to come? What do you do while you wait for the pain to stop, the problem to resolve or the struggle to end? Let’s go back to Acts chapter 1 for the answers.
Do The Next Right Thing
The confusion the disciples felt must have been enormous. If you had asked them, “Now what are you going to do?” they would have been almost clueless.
Almost. Because what they did next was brilliant. Jesus gave the apostles two commands before he left for heaven: “Do not leave Jerusalem,” and “Wait.” So the very next thing they did was return to Jerusalem and wait. They did the next right thing. The only thing they knew to do.
There was a time a few years ago when I didn’t know what to do next. I was confused, bewildered, crushed, broken and shattered. I didn’t even know how to pray. So I said, “God, I don’t know what to do.” Which was a prayer. Then I did the only thing I knew how to do. I went to church. I went to church because Hebrews says “don’t give up meeting together.” That’s a simple command but that’s all I had in me. All I could do was just show up. That was my next right thing.
You may be in a painful situation of waiting right now. You don’t know how things are going to turn out, you don’t where you are going to end up. Just do the next right thing. Do what you know is right. You may have to wait for a long, long time, but the answers will come. The confusion will clear. God will act.
Don’t Wait Alone
In Acts 1:13 – 14, Luke calls the roll of those who were waiting. He names the eleven remaining apostles. He mentions that Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers were present. A verse later we learn that there were 120 crammed into that room. It’s almost like Luke wants to emphasize the fact that all who were left were there together, waiting and praying. Together.
I don’t think that’s something that came to them naturally. I think they learned it. In Matthew 26, there’s an amazing moment in the hours before Jesus’ crucifixion. He took Peter, James and John aside and began to be deeply troubled. Listen to what he said: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
They learned from Jesus what to do while you wait. You ask others to keep watch and wait with you. If Jesus needed someone to wait with him, so do you, so do I. Waiting may be some of the hardest work we will ever do. It should never be done alone.
Sometimes, it feels like God moves at about three miles an hour. And that’s not because our technological age moves so quickly. God’s people have always struggled with God’s timing. The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk once complained, “How long, Lord, must I cry for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?” A chapter later, God answers: “Wait for it. It will certainly come.” Let that reassurance be yours in your wait. Hang in there, friend. God always does what he promises. And he always does it at exactly the right time.