“I wait for you, O Lord” (Psalm 38:15).
Sometimes we wait because we don’t have a choice.
A flight is cancelled. The Doctor can’t see you until late next week. The person who put you on hold has apparently forgotten that you exist. All lanes are closed and you just missed your last chance to exit. Sometimes the waiting we do is entirely out of our hands.
But there are times when we wait because we choose to wait. This is a different kind of waiting. Sometimes we look to God in our waiting because there’s nothing else for us to do. And then there are times when we wait because we have looked to God and sense that this is exactly what God would have us do.
Consider John Bunyan. There was a period in the history of the English church that outlawed preaching by anyone not properly ordained by the Anglican Church. Bunyan was a non-conformist (think Baptist) preacher. For this he was placed in prison in 1660. He was the father of four young children, one of whom had been born blind.
Bunyan could have easily secured his own release from prison and retuned to his family. All he needed to do was sign a sworn statement that he would no longer preach. Bunyan refused, and for his refusal he remained in prison for twelve years. In other words, he chose waiting. Eventually in 1672 the laws in England were changed by the Declaration of Religious Indulgence and Bunyan was released from prison. He was soon made pastor of the church in Bedford.
What if John Bunyan had refused to wait? What if he had jumped at the first chance to get out of jail and get home to his children? It is hard to imagine what sustained him for those twelve years, but this much seems clear. If Bunyan had renounced his calling in order to secure his freedom, something would have been lost. Is it possible that the man who later penned Pilgrim’s Progress was who he was because he chose to wait it out for twelve years? It has been said that Pilgrim’s Progress has about it “the fragrance of affliction.” Such cannot be true when affliction and waiting are carefully avoided.
Waiting can be hard on us. Choosing to wait can be even harder.
It is hard to wait when you are out of work and a job is offered that doesn’t seem like it will bring out your professional best. It’s hard to wait when a relationship comes along that seems good in so many ways and yet not quite right. It’s hard to wait when prices have never been so low.
But if we refuse to wait we just might end up doing work we hate. We might end up giving ourselves to someone who doesn’t truly love us. We might end up with more debt, incurred by a low price that we still couldn’t afford.
“I wait for you, O Lord” is not a statement of resignation. The words carry intent. The waiting is embraced, chosen. Sometimes we wait not because we have to but because we choose to. Waiting might not be the only thing we can do. It just might be the best thing we can do.
Will this day offer you a chance to wait because you’ve chosen to?
I wait for you, O Lord. Not because I can do nothing else, but because I trust you to do what is necessary in all that concerns me. Guard me from rushing ahead of you today. Keep me from choosing what feels easy and convenient. Give me strength to embrace waiting and allow me to see the wonder of your works, works that only you can do in my life and in this world. Amen