Recently I was reading some Bible verses and the concept of waiting was brought up. I recognize that waiting is a core component of our relationship with God. However, waiting is hard for those of us that live in a hurry up rat race world, yet God promises significant blessings to waiting. I think waiting needs an image makeover, some much needed professional help, perhaps a PR campaign. I ask myself this one question, “what really is waiting and why is it important?”
Waiting is simply the notion that the future opportunity is greater than the current situation. For example, my favorite place to eat a burger in South Florida is an iconic place called Le Tub. The place looks like someone’s junky backyard, but the food and vibe are excellent. When you order your hamburger, they will tell you on a busy day that you will have to wait up to an hour before you get that juicy delicacy. I remember waiting for hours in a line to get the latest iPhone (yep, I was one of those guys). Don’t tell me you didn’t wait for hours at a movie theatre hoping to see the latest Star Wars or summer blockbuster? Remember Veruca Salt? She wanted her Golden Goose now and caused quite a stir trying to get it…it did not end well for her. I think about all the things that we are told to wait for, and the list can be endless. Many of my most anxious moments and arguments with God had to do with the idea of having to wait.
The seeds of temptation are often birthed in our inability to wait. We experience a felt need, sometimes legitimate sometimes fabricated, and we act upon that need rather then wait. The Bible talks about the idea of waiting upon the Lord, which simply said, means that God’s got a plan that is clearer, more substantive and healthier than my plan, and it would be wise to wait on His plan versus act upon my own. Imagine God waiting on my plan before He did anything; that would be totally and absolutely absurd.
We have all been waiting a lot lately. We are waiting for a vaccine. We are waiting for businesses to open up again. We are waiting for our churches to open up. We are waiting for schools to open up (and those of you who have small children probably can’t wait). We are waiting to fly again, to travel again, to visit Broadway, to go to a movie… like I said, we are waiting for a lot lately. However, while we wait, we will find great joy in the littlest of things. Let me highlight a few things I am learning while I wait.
I have learned that when I wait, I have fewer regrets. I hate regrets. I have vivid memories of saying or doing something where I had deep regrets, and the feeling is horrible. I have great empathy for people who live in a constant state of regret. I also have deep appreciation for God’s Grace and the Gospel (meaning good news) message. Life will dispense its endless varieties of regrets if we are not intentional about surrendering. Remember Jesus saying, “Not my will but yours be done.” Therefore, I know that my faith in Christ and acceptance of His love will allow me to see a perspective that I will not see on my own… and waiting sheds light on that.
I have learned that when I wait, I develop character. I know that as of late, it appears that character has lost some of its mojo… however, character still counts. My journey for the past fifty plus years, walking with Jesus, has developed my character. I have learned to be humbler (not done yet). I am learning patience. I am learning how to forgive. I am learning how to manage disappointments, success, conflicts and the unknowns. I can honestly say I have no idea who I would be without God’s tenacious commitment to helping in developing my character. The Bible refers this to God doing a good work in me as He declared His work in creation as good.
I have learned that waiting allows me to be much more present. We have talked often of the incredible tendency that we all have to live either in the past or the future but rarely in the present. I am guilty of being on vacation, planning my next vacation. I am guilty of sitting at a table with my friends and family and picking up my phone and reading emails or looking at my calendar. I am often living in the world of “what’s next.” Waiting allows me to sit and inhale the present.
Recently, as a family we have all found great delight in waiting every evening for our friend Ratatouille to show up. Let me explain. While being quarantined, we have enjoyed family time outside, sitting by our firepit and enjoying the beauty of star-filled nights. We happen to have some telephone wires that skirt our backyard perimeter. One night we noticed a rat scurrying past us on the telephone wire draped high above our heads. We screamed. However, the next night, at roughly the same time, the same rat appeared doing the same thing. We screamed less. The occurrence became a nightly ritual as we would see this rat, now named Ratatouille, pay us a visit. My children post about it, and we have followers asking us about Ratatouille. We have even had people ask if they can come by to await our “little friend.” We have actually found ourselves waiting every night for our new little buddy. I bring this up because I think what we have found to be so delightful (what is delightful about a rat?) is the consistency. He shows up every night at the same time. Despite life’s many changes, the Bible says that God is the same. He is consistent. His timing is always perfect. I guess God can even use a rat to remind us of these principles. I like that, it’s creative. Therefore, perhaps as we all continue to develop our waiting muscle, we will ponder the benefits of waiting and actually become really good listeners and see and hear what God wants us to see and hear.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.