Friday, March 10, 2017

Learning to Wait on God

As previous readers of the blog know, I try to have a quiet time with God about five days a week. (This message includes an explanation of the four components of my quiet time: Stop. Look. Listen. Respond.)

Here's what I learned from God today as I read Hebrews 6 and focused on one verse to which God seemed to turn my attention:
Look: “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” (Hebrews 6:15)

This verse struck me because I’ve just re-read Hummel’s Tyranny of the Urgent. There, he looks at how Jesus went off early in the morning to pray (Mark 1:35) and observes: “[Jesus] prayerfully waited for his Father’s instructions.”

What was true of Jesus, God in the flesh, was not always true of Abraham. Twice, the Old Testament says, Abraham lied to foreign kings through whose realms he passed about the identity of his wife, Sarah. Each time, he said that Sarah was his sister rather than his wife, certain that if he fessed up to being married to Sarah, the kings would kill him to have Sarah for themselves. (She must have still been a looker when she was in her old age!)

Another time, Sarah had become impatient for the son that God had promised to Abraham and her. So, she told Abraham to sleep with her servant, Hagar. A son born to Sarah’s servant from Abraham’s seed would have been considered Sarah’s and Abraham’s son. Apparently, Abraham shared in Sarah’s impatience (and may have liked the idea of sleeping with Hagar apart from any consideration of God’s promise) and slept with Sarah’s slave.

Each time Abraham grew impatient, disaster ensued.

But each time he sinned in this way, Abraham returned to God and to trust in God. It was this trust that God rewarded. What was true at the beginning of his relationship with God was true whenever Abraham turned to God in faith: “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

Listen: Your Word makes it clear, Lord, that I have made by biggest mistakes and committed sin by failing to wait on You. Jesus told the disciples on the night of His arrest: “Until now, you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24).

But all too often, I either don’t ask, thinking that I already know the best way forward, or I ask, but fail to wait. I take matters into my own hands. Or I do what I think is the best thing without taking the time to listen for Your direction in Your Word or in the counsel of trusted Christian people.

This has caused me stress and heartache. It’s led me unwittingly into sin and, sometimes, caused me to equally unwittingly, lead others into sin.

On the other hand, when I have waited patiently, when I’ve gone about striving to be faithful and kept on the lookout for where You’re leading me, I’ve often received more than my puny mind can imagine. The good You grant is never what I imagine in my self-centered thoughts. But I need Your grace to help me to accept that what You have in mind for me is always better than what I have in mind for me. In the bargain, when I patiently wait on Your will to be done in my life, You set me free to become the person You made me to be.

This path also promises to remove some of the stress that comes when I allow myself to think that the future of the world or pieces of it rest on my actions. Life and positive change only come from You. So does energy and inspiration for the blessed life Jesus died and rose to give those who believe in Him.

Help me to remember Your promise in Isaiah 40:31: “...those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Respond: Remind me today and tomorrow to spend time with You in Your Word and in prayer and to wait for You to guide me, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray.
[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

No comments: