Sunday, February 16, 2014

Living Through the Wait - Part I

February 16, 2014

"I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning." Psalm 130:5-6

I loathe waiting. I would much rather do. I am a person of action, eager to check the box beside each activity on my list so that I can move on to the next thing. I call it being productive.

But for now I must wait. Wait for the inevitable. I want to fast-forward time or to at least dictate when the wait will end. But I cannot. For now I simply must wait.

It is distracting, this waiting game. How does one continue on with normal life, with daily activities while consumed by anticipation? How do you invest emotionally in the here-and-now while your mind wanders miles away? How do you live through the wait?

I turn to the stories of old, those whose stories were written down for our example (1 Corinthians 10:11). I recall many Old Testament friends who had to wait. Some friends waited well. Other friends failed to wait, and reaped disaster upon their heads.

In Genesis 15 God promised Abraham and Sarah a baby. More than ten years passed. Sarah could wait no longer and arranged for her husband to conceive a child through another woman. Through Sarah's servant Hagar, Abraham became the father of Ishmael of whom God said, "[He] will be a wild man, as
untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and
everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility
against all his relatives.”
(Genesis 16:12) Abraham and Sarah failed to wait upon God, and birthed a separate nation as a result.

In 1 Samuel 13 King Saul prepared his troops to enter into battle against the Philistines. After waiting seven days for the prophet Samuel to arrive King Saul began to fear the desertion of his men. Rather than waiting for Samuel to offer a sacrifice to God as was commanded, King Saul presented the burnt offering to God. "What is this you have done?" asks Samuel once he finally arrived. "You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you [and] now your kingdom must end." King Saul failed to wait upon God, and lost his kingship as a result. (1 Samuel 13:8-14)

Let us consider King Saul's replacement, David. David waited well. After King Saul's misstep God instructed Samuel to anoint the young shepherd boy as the next king of Israel. Yet David would have to wait years for the fulfillment of God's promise. What did David do to pass the time?

Immediately after his anointing, David returned to the field to care for dirty, smelly, unappreciative sheep. Next, God added to David's daily responsibility the task of serving the very king he would eventually replace. In the midst of David's dutiful service the king grew jealous of David's popularity with the people. King Saul began to pursue David, forcing David to live life on the run. Finally, after over fifteen years of faithful service to God, David became king. How did David endure the wait? By
continuing to faithfully complete the tasks God placed in front of him. (1 Samuel 13-2 Samuel 2)

What about the Israelites? God's chosen people endured a time of waiting as well. As a result of unbelief God sentenced His people to wander the wilderness for forty years. While in the wilderness some Israelites grumbled and were destroyed by the angel of death (1 Corinthians 10:10, Numbers 16:49). Some Israelites put God to the test and died from snakebites (1 Corinthians 10:9, Numbers 21:5). Other Israelites acted immorally and died in the same day (1 Corinthians 10:8, Numbers 25:9). But the children of these unfaithful Israelites waited well, and as a result of their patience they entered the long-awaited Promise Land (Numbers 14:31).

How do we wait like the faithful children of Israel?

For now, you'll have to wait . . .

In all honesty I have rambled on long enough for one post. I will share tomorrow three practices I have observed from Scripture during the Israelites' time of wilderness waiting.

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