We live in an instant society. I hear "I can’t wait!" on a daily basis as we anticipate the next great thing in our lives. And it is not just a phrase. Waiting literally drives us crazy. Which means, of course, that it is also challenging to make someone else wait.
I have a counseling nature. When someone pulls me aside to ask advice or for help, I want to have an answer ready for them immediately. But sometimes an immediate answer does not help. Sometimes the greatest help comes in the waiting, in making us slow down and think before we act.
Reading through the prophets has convinced me that waiting might be the best option much more often than we would ever care to admit. Right now my family is reading through Ezekiel. Ezekiel is one of the stranger books in the Bible, even leading some "experts" to determine that Ezekiel had encounters with aliens rather than God! Wading through the significance of many of the prophecies of Ezekiel is challenging at best. But even in the midst of the bizarre can be found nuggets of great meaning. Take the beginning of Ezekiel 8, for instance.
It came about in the sixth year, on the fifth day of the sixth month, as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell on me there. Ezekiel 8:1
The elders were there to seek the wisdom of Ezekiel, who had been recognized as a prophet. Instead of giving them direct answers to their questions, however, Ezekiel waited for the Lord. He fell into a trance, and for the next four chapters we read of the visions of that trance. How long he was in the trance, we do not know, nor do we know whether or not the elders waited there the whole time for his response. What we do know is that Ezekiel did not just give the elders a response based on his own wisdom, knowledge, or understanding. He waited, and they had to wait as well.
My wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are nothing. They are faulty. They are the epitome of ignorance. When I step aside and let God’s words flow through me, however, all of that changes. In order to accomplish such a feat, I must wait. Those who seek my advice must wait.
I remember hearing frequently in my childhood that "good things come to those who wait." An even better saying is found in the very well-known words of Isaiah 40:31.
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31
As I consider the things that I so frequently want right now, I cannot dredge up even one thing that truly demands instant provision or response. I may think that now is the only acceptable time, but experience proves otherwise. Waiting always requires reliance on the Lord. Waiting always demands that I focus on Him instead of my own limited abilities. Waiting always produces growth. Waiting is good.
I desire to cultivate the habit of waiting. I want to wait both to receive and to give. In doing so, I will receive and give the gifts and wisdom of God, not the fallible and corruptible gifts and wisdom of this world.