Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
I do not remember asking the Lord for patience. In fact, I recall many saints of God warning me against such an endeavor. Patience is hard won in this thing called life. It is clearly contradictory to the world with its need for immediate gratification. Turning on the computer, I must wait for the programs to load. The screen is illuminated with a beautiful wedding picture of my family which always makes me smile. Clicking the icon to enter the worldwide web the cursor begins spinning…and spinning…and spinning. Ugh! Slow internet. We have had the same contract for years but now have more users than before. The office is on the other side of the house though only a few rooms and walls away seems as though the signal makes a transatlantic voyage to load on the screen. Is it really the slow internet eating away at me or the fact that I am waiting…again? It is more likely the latter as I have developed some patience in regard to earthly things. Spending years waiting on appointments, doctors, test result and diagnoses will do that for you. Yet patience, like faith, seems to come in small quantities. At least for me that is.
The desires of my heart have changed over the years. Yet my propensity to respond to the pressure of waiting does not seem to lessen but only intensify. Perseverance is needed to accommodate faith. Faith cannot be found in anything less than waiting on the Lord. We must wait. But why? What is the point of having to wait for God and His Goodness when we as Christians who strive to live righteous and obedient lives fully demonstrating our belief in Jesus? Why does God make us wait? Friend, there is purpose in waiting. There is preparation in thing called perseverance that is more valuable than any amount of money or a heavy load of shiny gold. It is called faith. When we learn to trust the Lord with our whole being and decide to wait on the Lord in all things – we live the life of the righteous.
Righteousness is nothing that we can do or will ever produce in our life. It is a gift from God through His Son, Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9) It is our human desire to somehow earn it and repay the obligation as we want to be free of such a responsibility. We cannot repay God for our very life. We have nothing of worth to offer. We do. But it will never be enough. We trust. But it is only limited as we strive to regain control. We have faith but it is as small as a mustard seed. We need patience to allow it time to grow. You know at night when the signal on the Internet is weakest because so many people are drawing from it, it is not unusual to find one of our daughters sitting next to the router. Being closest to the router, they receive the strongest signal. You know when they can get the Internet in their room, they stay right there. But when it becomes weak or disconnected, they move toward it. They close the distance between them and the connection. No longer do you hear grumbling or complaining as they sit there quietly doing homework or on social media. Makes me think… how about you?
Judges 6:17-18 (NIV)
Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”
Gideon is hiding in the winepress threshing wheat. He is minding his own business when the Lord comes to him and gives him a promise. “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’”(Judges 6:12) Gideon cannot help but remind the messenger of the current condition of the people. The Midianites “like locust” were destroying the people. Burning crops, killing livestock and oppressing the Israelites who yet again had turned their back on God. Gideon also reminded the visitor that he was from the weakest clan and among them the least. The Lord continues to encourage Gideon giving him purpose, go in the strength you have and save Israel. God had placed something in Gideon that was not perceived by his consequence or current condition. The Lord promised the man His Presence. “I will go with you” and you will be victorious. At some point in their conversation, Gideon decided that he must obey the Lord. He petitioned the Lord, “Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”
I have read this story many times. It is one that encourages us to look past the natural condition of our life and pursue God’s Promise for us. No matter how weak and insignificant we may feel or foreboding and overwhelming the set of circumstances, if God be for us who can be against us? Right. Right? Okay well maybe… God is with us. His Spirit lives in us. When Jesus Christ died on the Cross, He released the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, His Spirit made its home in mankind. It is up to us to cultivate a life of faith and hope learning to trust the Lord. We cannot make a manmade sacrifice such as Gideon which was immediately consumed by the Lord. We have only one thing to sacrifice. Our whole being. Our broken spirit. A contrite and broken heart. Why did the angel wait? He waited for Gideon to prepare his offering. Maybe part of the reason God waits to give us His Promise or release His Purpose is so that we can prepare our sacrifice.
Romans 4:1-5 (NIV)
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’ Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.” (Genesis 22:1-4) I have often thought about the journey of Abraham up the mountain to meet the Lord. In fact, toward the end of our journey with our son, I spent many hours at the gym on an elliptical machine envisioning my footfall and dust flying beneath my feet running up the mountain after him. I had to get to the place of sacrifice. I had to see what the moment after that one held. I had to see the Promise of the Lord fulfilled.
As I am reminded of this story today, I can look at it from the other side of the mountain. Our son was spared by the Lord and remains in remission. It figuratively came just moments before the death blow could have come in his young life. At first, the journey was filled with faith and hope as he rallied valiantly through the first round of chemo and radiation. Cancer gone, it was a time of rejoicing that would soon come to an end. Abraham waiting ninety years for his promise. When the Lord asked him to sacrifice his son, his only son, Abraham embarked on the journey to the place of sacrifice. It was a three-day trip and still he saw the place “in the distance.” I wonder if this might represent our wait times and the pathway to perseverance in our life? All those times that God makes a promise and we choose to hang on until He keeps it. As He moved closer to the mountain, I am quite sure that Abraham pressed into God’s Presence. He prayed. He quietly cried out to the Lord. When fear gripped him, his faith took another step closer. When grief tried to stop him, hope pushed him on. Abraham would be found righteous by God – not because he lived a perfect and sinless life. God found Abraham righteous simply by faith. Abraham trusted God. But did it take three or four days of going to the place of sacrifice to prepare the offering? The offering that day was Abraham’s whole being. It was an outward expression of his inward choice to believe that God is good in all things.
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2) The perfect sacrifice was made so that we could become in right standing with God again. Jesus is our Savior. To make the choice to live our life according to His Sacrifice is to pursue righteousness and holiness. We are to be a living sacrifice. The Word of God calls us “living stones” which are being built into the Kingdom of God. We have a free will that decides the level of our giving. The only acceptable sacrifice is a broken spirit and a broken heart. It is in this “breaking” that we come to the end of self and accept Jesus as Lord of our life. Everything changes the moment we accept God’s Promise and decide to live according to His Word, His Will and His Way. Our flesh rallies to live but our spirit needs it to die so we can give the Lord our whole being and not just some parts. My whole being must wait on the Lord. It is when I am broken that His Grace becomes enough as I move out of the way. God waits on us. We do not wait on Him.
Psalm 37:3-7 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
What is God waiting on? He is waiting for me to trust Him. He is waiting for me to continue to do good even when it is not yielding immediate results. He is waiting for me to take delight in Him and continually praise Him even under extreme pressure. He is waiting for me to commit my way to Him by faith even when there seems to be no way out. The Lord is asking me to be still and wait on Him to perfect His Plan and make me complete lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4) Though the wait is long, my faith is one minute longer. He encourages me not to compare my life to others but keep focused on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of my faith. Comparison is a joy killer. Waiting and persevering will always take us to the edge of self because that is where we find the Lord. (Psalm 38:13-15) Gideon told the angel of the Lord every single reason why He was not the “mighty warrior” that God called him that day until finally he brought the offering that represented self.
Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
We all need and want a savior. Someone to rescue us in life. But few desire a Lord to love, protect and lead them through life. When Jesus came into your heart and mine, He did so with purpose. He wants His Promise and His Glory to illuminate from your life to become a city on the hill and a light in the darkness. You cannot stay the same. It is in our absolute and complete devastation that we discover the tiniest yet most valuable part of us…our faith. When we take that faith and sow it back into the Kingdom, it grows a little more each time. The sacrifice of harvest is our self. A life surrendered to God knows no bounds but it also knows no other way but through Jesus Christ.
Today as I wait a little longer, I am reminded that perseverance is necessary to obtain all of God’s Promises. We must wait on the Lord. But more importantly, He is waiting for us to respond to His Promises to us with faith and confident hope born of character totally offered up to the Lord holding nothing back and surrendering our all. This is how we make every effort to respond to God’s Promises as Paul indicated to the Corinthians. (2 Peter 1:5) What is the Lord waiting on? He has spoken to your heart, now He is waiting for you to say like the psalmist, “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk to me,’ and my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming!’” (Psalm 27:8 NLT)
So maybe even the slow internet in our house has a purpose more than trying my patience, it reminds me today that sometimes I am not waiting on the Lord but rather He is waiting on me to move in deeper or come a little closer. What if that is the very thing that will bring down the barriers or cover the breaches in our life? What if it is just God waiting on us to prepare an acceptable life offering or gather all of our self for sacrifice? God’s Love is so amazing! He is such a good Father!
Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.