Does anybody really like waiting? Does anyone possess the patience one needs at every moment of every day? I don’t! Sometimes I’ll look at an article like this and scroll to the end to see how long it is before I decide if I can make it to the end…otherwise I don’t read it at all. Please don’t take that as a suggestion!!! But I mean patience is just so hard to learn. Not only that, but if you’re an impatient person, just how long are you willing to WAIT to become patient? Patience builds character, or it may be the evidence of character, but either way, being impatient and impulsive is not the way to go.
If you’re like me, you want to go 0-60 in two seconds. You want to enter pre-med as a freshman and become a world-class surgeon by the end of the week. There’s work that needs to take place in the meantime that we’re not willing to go through. We need to be equipped, perhaps, in some instances to do the task for which the Lord called us. Imagine being saved for all of a month and deciding to “open” your own church. You call yourself pastor…others may call you pastor…you may preach your first sermon, but are you truly ready for the ministry? Are you prepared? No, because you couldn’t wait to “get going.”
There’s another aspect of patience. What about waiting on God for His promises and blessings? What about waiting on God to get “your due?” You pray but your family members are hard hearted. You volunteer your time but you don’t see any fruit for your labor. You sow multitudes of seeds of many kinds and you wait, but still…no harvest! You keep plugging away and doing what is expected of you and you never seem to “catch that break.” Let’s look at a few reasons your “ship hasn’t come in yet.” (That was the last cliché…I promise).
Think about this for a moment, with regards to a newly saved individual wanting to be a pastor. You’re not ready! It’s that simple. God will not entrust you with a leadership position at the pinnacle of a New Testament church hierarchy when you don’t know what it is that you don’t know! You will have people coming to you for spiritual guidance with questions that would stump the wisest of rabbis. So no, you have no choice but to wait, if you want to do a good job for the Lord. While I was in Bible college back in the late 80’s, the administration knew that the propensity for those called to be pastors was to think they were ready before they really were. These young men were well meaning and wanted to attack Hell with water pistols, but the wiser professors knew they were setting themselves up for failure. They told the pastoral freshmen that the world needed help before they came to college, and the world would still need help four years later…so don’t rush it.
Jesus didn’t send his disciples out on their own with the Great Commission until He had mentored them, and taught them, and advised them, and prepared them fully (Matthew 28:19-20). That took several years. When it’s recorded in the Book of Acts that the people continued in the Apostle’s Doctrine, it was really the doctrine the Apostles had learned from the Lord Himself! Jesus knew who He wanted to be the first leaders of the first church, and He knew what they needed to know, and spent those years teaching them the intimate details of His Word. Remember, lots of times Jesus would speak a parable that may have perplexed those listening, because the disciples were also perplexed at times. Jesus would take the time to explain, in detail on several occasions, exactly what the parable meant in spiritual terms, privately to the disciples.
So whether it’s becoming a pastor, teacher, plumber, world-class surgeon, or whatever, you need to get prepared. God has already equipped you with certain characteristics and traits for what He has called you. You’ve passed the first part of God’s vetting process. Now, study to show yourself approved (Second Timothy 2:15). Learn what you need to learn to eventually be ready to handle the challenges of the calling God has for your life. You might say to yourself that you’re ready now. You believe God wouldn’t have called you if you weren’t already able to do it. Well, God anointed David as king and it wasn’t until 17 years later that he assumed that role, all the while learning valuable lessons along the way before he ultimately got his position.
What about waiting for blessings that seem to never come? Well, here’s another time where not being ready may be a factor. Suppose you’re faithful in giving but your business is just sluggish and not getting off the ground the way you would like. Maybe…just maybe…God knows what kind of steward you would be with just a smidgen higher profit margin. Would you be wise and handle extra wealth well, or would you be a tad on the impulsive side and spend it like water? Perhaps you want to be a well-known conference speaker, but would you be able to handle the fame that comes with it? Would you begin to lose focus of the calling of God in your life and begin thinking the conferences are all about you? If you want advancement; if you want rewards; if you want a raise; if you want recognition and responsibilities, you need to have the right motives. The motivation has to be for God to get the glory through your life when He’s ready.
But why don’t we want to wait? That’s easy to answer…it’s because our motivation is not what God wants, but what we want. What usually motivates us to do anything…a reward? It’s been that way since we were children. Five stars on the calendar for completing your chores would win you a trip to the dollar store. We do things because we get things. And it’s not all bad! We find jobs that pay based on the needs we have as a family. A paycheck is our reward for working an honest job. Even doing something nice for someone gives us a good feeling inside, and that also is a reward or motivation to do that again some other time.
So to get instantly rewarded for the things we do is not always an evil desire. But now look at this. You’re a single man wanting a wife and the benefits of physical and emotional intimacy that comes with being married. You want that, but God says wait…now what? Suppose you and your wife now desire a child, but God says wait…now what? At work you feel you’re a born leader and you’re tired of being overlooked for a promotion. You want that responsibility, but God says wait…now what? We want many things and we want it now, but God says wait…now what?
Well, I’ll tell you. Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies as “living sacrifices.” That’s huge! Don’t just read over that each time you recite that verse…think about that word picture for a moment. If you grab a turkey by the neck and drag it to a tree stump while you hold a shiny axe head in front of the turkey’s face, he will fight you the whole way. Why? Because it’s not a pleasant experience to be sacrificed and killed. It’s extremely uncomfortable! There’s not a single being that wants to willingly give themselves up that way. A dead turkey will lay on that sacrificial altar all day long…because it’s dead. You walk away from a live turkey and it’s gone!!!
What am I saying? Simply this! You desire the physical and emotional intimacy of marriage, but you will have to lay those desires on the altar, and willingly kill them everyday until God fulfills those desires at His appointed time. You desire to have children and hear the pitter patter of little feet, but you’ll have to put that desire on the altar and kill it…everyday. The same goes for the promotion you’re not getting. You must take your desire for respect and a raise and sacrifice it willingly on that altar daily!
Why do I have to sacrifice those desires everyday? That’s so unpleasant and uncomfortable! Well, the alternative is worse. You desire physical intimacy and get as much of it as you want whenever and wherever, and now you have a terminal sexually transmitted disease. God knows you’re not ready for a child, but you go and adopt, and only then do you see the wisdom in God not giving you a child to care for…only now…you do have one, when you’re not ready. It proves to be a struggle, and it’s not the enjoyable experience you had hoped it would be. It’s because Abraham and Sarah didn’t wait on God for a child that we have lasting ramifications today.
A willing sacrifice means that I put God’s desires and needs ahead of mine. I’ll be honest with you. I frequently find myself wanting a bigger house, but I’ve told others that I’m staying in this house until GOD moves me into another house. Oh sure, I could work many more hours, and my wife could pick up more hours, and we could afford a bigger house, but at what greater cost? Who knows, maybe I’ll win a house…maybe I’ll be willed a house…who knows? But I am not forcing it. It will be better for all involved to wait on God.
And that brings me to my final point about being patient and waiting on God. Maybe you’re ready for marriage, but that girl you’re going to marry just got saved, and she needs to be readied by God. Maybe the promotion you think you want is actually going to be a higher position in a new branch the company is opening up that you had no idea was in the works. By just sitting back and waiting on God, you remained available the whole time the CEO’s of your company were working behind the scenes, and then, God lays it on their heart to put you in charge in a greater way than you would have been at the old branch.
God’s ways are not our ways and we may think we know what’s best for us, but we probably haven’t a clue most times. Being patient and waiting on God is easier said than done, and we know it’s in our best interest to do so, yet we often “help God along” the way Abraham and Sarah did. Let’s be content with what God has allowed in our lives to this point, and WAIT until HE spurs us into action. Remember, God is sovereign, and God is omniscient. Our Heavenly Father know all and is ruler and master of all…how can we go wrong!