Waiting is hard. I don’t know many people who like it. Our generation has become accustomed to instant gratification, and my own life experience has been no exception. I don’t like to feel like I’m in a holding pattern. I like to get things done.
So, I ask myself, am I a sitting duck, or a setting hen? Does God ever waste time? I look at the example of Joseph, and I have to say no. The years in prison, suffering unjustly at the hands of others, were not wasted. In scripture I see phrases like, “in due time,” “at the time appointed,” “in the fulness of time,” which all suggest that God is active even in what seems to be inactivity.
I think of a line from a favorite family movie, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium:
Mr. Edward Magorium: 37 seconds.
Molly Mahoney: Great. Well done. Now we wait.
Mr. Edward Magorium: No. We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime.
What am I doing while I wait? Even Mr. Rogers had a song for his young viewers, called “Let’s Think of Something to Do While We’re Waiting.” Time, in this horizontal realm, is too precious to waste.
So, am I a sitting duck or a setting hen? A sitting duck is the creature who, bobbing along aimlessly, finds himself suddenly in peril because he is not actively aware of his surroundings. He is an easy target. Don’t we colloquially use the term “sitting duck” to mean just that? And is it coincidence that those carnival games have little ducks that you try to shoot? A setting hen, on the other hand, although she seems passive, is accomplishing something quite active and purposeful. She waits, actively. Which am I?
We have numerous choices before us currently as a couple. With nearly 20 years of marriage under our belts, you’d think we’d be more adept by now at this waiting game. Not so. Each situation is different, presenting its own set of distractions, nuances and possibilities. So, do we park our recliners in front of the set of open doors and wait for a tractor beam to pull us through the correct one? Is there something active we can do?
“The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.”~Ps. 119:130
This is a consolation to me. At times like these, we all feel quite “simple.” We wish there was such a thing as a telegram from Heaven. We consider what kind of “fleece” we might put out to obtain an answer. We speculate what we might accomplish if we only had the Urim and Thummim in our possession for a couple of minutes. But what I’ve been convinced of today is that I need to remove distractions and pour over the Word. It gives light where things may seem dark or obscure. It is alive and powerful, and it can discern between the thoughts and intents (and motives) of my heart (which can so easily deceive itself).
So, as I read this morning (not flipping open my Bible and pointing at a verse…I won’t treat God’s holy Word like a Ouija board), I take the day’s reading as it is appointed in my schedule. This is what I find:
In Joshua 1, Moses has died, and Joshua has now stepping into the leadership role. God admonishes him repeatedly to be strong and courageous. He reminds Joshua that His presence will be with him…He will not leave Joshua or forsake him. We learn that the way of prosperity and success is prepared by meditation in the scriptures, not in weighing pros and cons and choosing by mere human reasoning what “makes sense.” (Indeed, very often God does things that are quite uncommon so that the glory will be His.) God encourages Joshua (a mighty man) not to be frightened or dismayed. Don’t worry. Further, in Chapter 3, I see the importance of God’s presence preceding the crossing of the Israelites. They should not go until the ark has crossed. And then:
And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” (Joshua 3:10-13 ESV)
This required faith. Going through the open door. Not just dipping in the toes, but placing the feet into the tide. Move forward and as you step into the Jordan, the way will be made clear. He will part the waters. Sometimes, God in His goodness and condescension will give us clues, gentle proddings, because our faith is weak. I don’t know about you, but I seem to pray for these in abundance because I’m so afraid I might trust in myself. Proverbs tells me not to lean upon my own understanding, but to acknowledge God in all my ways and then He will give direction.
In my New Testament portion I read of Zechariah, who was counted righteous and is described as walking blamelessly. But I see that he doubted God’s ability to do what he views to be the impossible…the illogical. And he is stricken dumb until the birth of John. Why dumb? We can surmise, but I know (because God never wastes time) that it was purposeful.
I know from Psalm 23 that He, my good Shepherd, will lead me…He will go before us to prepare healthy pastures without noxious weeds. As we follow. He will dam up a stream of clear, pure water so that His skittish sheep will not be afraid of the rush and current. See Keller’s book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” for more insights. He loves us. We can trust Him.
So, as good stewards, we look through the eyes of scripture, and we count the cost:
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
”Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
”Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” ~Luke 14:28-30
We think of finances. We count our resources. We remind ourselves of His provision in the past, even as David recounted God’s repeated faithfulness toward him in the Psalms. What is the wisest way to move forward? What is the best choice for the health of our marriage and our family? What are God’s purposes in the choices before us? In the end, we lay all of our musings before Him. And we trust.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105
I have used the illustration often, how that when we visit our favorite camp, we need to be sure to have a good flashlight. At night, in the Bridger Wilderness, the paths are dark. There are no street lights. You are wholly reliant upon that little beam of light to show the way. But you must focus on what is immediately before your feet. If you point the light too far ahead, you may twist your ankle in a dip, or trip over a rock in the way. One step safely at a time. This is how we progress. We trust Him for what is 100 yards ahead. He sees the entire scope, and He will prepare the way.