God knows that it is good for us to practice waiting; he built it into our very design and that of the universe around us. A baby takes 40 weeks to develop in the womb. A bear waits for spring. A diamond is formed. We know this, and yet we still actively or passively forget how to wait. A web page opens 15 seconds too slow, a traffic light takes “forever”. Waiting to conceive, for a proposal, for healing, for justice.
Each year about this time, I go to church where we hear about the beauty of waiting and allowing God to work in his time and his ways. Afterwards, we rush off to busy ourselves with all the shopping, cooking, visiting, and all other kinds of busyness. Once spent with all our efforts and plans, we wonder why we need to decompress from the season. Having waited all year long for Christmastime, I think we have lost the ability to enjoy it for what it is: Waiting.
The season of Advent is a spiritual kind of waiting when believers make preparations for the coming of Jesus and for the salvation he promises to bring for the whole earth. We try to re-remember who He is and why we need him. In the pages of the Bible we learn that we share the same hearts as our ancient forefathers in faith. Longing for salvation has never left us.
God’s purpose in giving us this glimpse of hope wasn’t exactly to invite us into the solution. Sarah knew that God had promised her and Abraham would have as many descendants as the sand on the seashore. But they were very old and it wasn’t happening. She faced the challenge of having to decide whether to trust her own reasoning or to trust that God would be faithful to deliver.
We know that in Genesis 16 Sarah lost her patience and tried to hurry along God’s promise herself. Although this exact story probably wouldn’t happen today, we are also guilty of the same untrust and unbelief when we take action outside of God’s will.
It’s the motivation to lie, steal, cheat our way forward, because in our hearts we don’t fully trust God’s way to work for us. We try to self medicate and take things into our own hands. It’s easy to point out and incredibly difficult to do.
Whatever this may look like for you in your life, the motivation behind sin is always going to look like a lack of trust in God’s goodness. Because if he was good, you wouldn’t have to wait right?
That God’s goodness depends on our understanding is human reasoning.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”Isaiah 55:8-9
Even so, God understands our impatient hearts even more than we do. Even while we may not understand or agree, we cannot deny that we are utterly limited in all aspects of our being; God is not. He asks us to trust because we will never be able to fully understand this side of heaven. Like a father who is coaxing his daughter to jump in the pool, our Father coaxes us to just trust. Even though nothing makes sense and even though we have seen how heavy things sink to the bottom. We jump because we know that our Father is good and has never failed us in the past. We jump because of his track record.
Abraham had even less information than we do today about God’s goodness and provision. He didn’t have the whole of scripture to bask in, nor did he have as many faithful people that came before to leave behind lives of trust and worship. Even so, he knew the Lord so well, was so convicted of hearing the Lord’s voice and so moved by that command to take up and move to a foreign land that he had no choice but to believe and do it.
The season of Advent then, is our annual opportunity to return back to the question of waiting. Will we await the coming of Jesus with hope and belief? Or will we sink back to our own understanding where we must make a way for ourselves before things get too out of hand?
My prayer for us this Advent season is that we would lean into the waiting and the unknown, taking comfort and refuge in the Good Father who has it all under control.
- Read Psalm 106
- Prayerfully consider what you can practice waiting with faith on this season