The culture of this world or at least this American nation have made waiting a sin. Fast food that takes more than 3 minutes to pick up is frustrating. Lights that don’t ever seem to turn green are labeled long. Diets are promoted by quick success. Amazon Prime membership is a must have for its two day shipping. Internet speeds are clocking in at unimaginable speeds and still not fast enough. Yes, the concept of waiting feels like a curse, and it’s all our culture can do to exterminate it.
Having read through the Bible in 90 days twice this past year and once before the season of Advent, I am convinced that one of the themes (should I go so far as to say doctrine?) of the story of Scripture is waiting. The thing this country abhors is exactly what God wants His children to embrace. Here’s some examples:
- Abram and Sarai are promised a nation will come from them. They were beyond child bearing years then, and God had them wait another 20 or so years before giving them Isaac.
- Joseph is sold to slavery, thrown into prison, forgotten – about 15-20 years worth of waiting before his God-given dream became reality.
- The children of Israel were slaves in Egypt for 400 years before deliverance came. That’s almost twice as long as the United States have been a nation!
- David was promised the throne but spent most of his time on the run before ascending to it.
- Israel would be exiles for 70 years before returning home. The promised Messiah? He came 400 years later.
- Zechariah and Elizabeth are given their son John after years of trying and believing that the ability was past.
- Jesus came to this earth some 4,000 years + after God’s promise to Adam and Eve.
God seems to be teaching His children to wait, and like any child, I groan and complain about it. I want things now and can’t imagine being happy until I get them. Waiting for God to bring about His promises is hard. There is darkness in this world, and waiting introduces the temptation to doubt that God will fulfill them, perhaps even doubt that He Himself is real. Where are you, God, after all these years? The Kingdom was supposed to come soon, or so the Apostles believed. Yet 2,000 years later, we’re still waiting. How could this possibly be the teaching of Scripture?
Waiting in itself does not bring about what God desires to create in His children. It must be mingled with another attribute – anticipation. Abraham believed God would give him a son – he anticipated it. His faith was counted as righteousness. Simeon waited and anticipated the consolation of Israel. He held Him in his arms. We were meant to desire the coming of the Kingdom and the King as children anticipate Christmas. They wholeheartedly believe it is coming, and though the wait seems unbearable at times, there is great joy in each day because it is leading to Christmas Day. Waiting with anticipation leads to joy.
I was recently in the wedding of two of my dear friends. I believe on the day he proposed, he would have been delighted to take her to a court house and make it happen. But they set their wedding date for the final day of the year. They made preparations. They ached for the day to arrive. When it came, there was joy, celebration, and sheer delight because the waiting and anticipation of love making one out of two was complete.
That’s the waiting I believe the Scriptures teach. A wedding day is promised. Preparations are being made. The Kingdom is coming. My heart aches for it – indeed, all creation groans for the day to come. Darkness will get darker, and doubt will ever seek to supplant anticipation. But the day will come. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb will finally join my wayward heart to the greatest of lovers. By the Spirit’s power, I am waiting and anticipating.
A great album for this season is Waiting Songs by Rain for Roots. You could say it’s a children’s album or a Christmas album. It’s actually a very Scriptural album, solid for any season.