Monday, August 5, 2013

Just Wait

Just part of our party with family
 This past weekend, we celebrated our oldest son's birthday with a family meal together here in our home.  As always, the grandchildren look forward to the best part of the meal - the cake!  They labored through the meat, potatoes, and green beans that the rest of us savored.  Following the meal, they immediately began to ask for their cake to which the reply from their mothers was "Just wait until everyone is finished."  Oh, it is so hard to wait!
     I remember those days of waiting, when I was small, for my birthday, waiting for Christmas to come, waiting for Easter, waiting to arrive at our destination.  It all seemed to take so long.  Then, as a teen, there were things like waiting till you were old enough to drive or go to the Junior/Senior Prom.  In college, it was waiting in line at the book store to get your college materials, waiting in line at the cafeteria for food and waiting for the big day when you would graduate.  Life is full of many opportunities to wait.  We may not like it, but the end result brings us joy.  If we try to skip or short circuit the process in any way in order to get to our desired end, the results can be disastrous.  God has a time table for our lives from start to finish.
     A good example of someone who could not wait is found in the parable Jesus told of "The Prodigal Son" (Luke 15:11-32).  (If you have not read this parable, take a moment to read it in its entirety.)  The youngest son in this story could not wait for his father to die in order to inherit his portion of his father's wealth.  Therefore, he demanded that his father give him what was his due.  Upon receiving it, he went to a far country and spent it in what the Bible calls "reckless living".  This is rather an understatement but our imaginations can paint us the picture.  When all the money was gone, this young man found himself in need as there was a famine in the land.  He ended up feeding pigs to survive.
     At some point, this young man came to himself and realized that he had made a grave error in what he had done.  He decided to return to his father, ask his forgiveness for his sin, and be allowed to be a servant in his household rather than a son.
     When this son was yet a long way off, the father saw him and ran to him.  Not only did he forgive his son but he restored him to his rightful place in the household.  He celebrated with a feast.  However, the older brother who had not rebelled was not pleased with this restoration of his younger brother just as the Pharisees were not happy with Jesus for reaching out to sinners.  This story has many good insights, but the contrast between the young man who could not wait for his inheritance and the long-suffering of the father who waited with love for his return tell us a lot about the character of God and our relationship to Him.
     In the story, the father represents God who has opened His arms to forgive those who repent and commit themselves to Him.  God's patience is infinite.  As 2 Peter 3:9 tells us:  "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."  The young man who demanded his share of the inheritance is like those of us who cannot wait on the Lord.  We want what we want NOW!  Our society has taught us instant gratification, and we tend to pray to our "McGod" to give us immediate results.  If we do not get what we want, we try to find a way or make a way on our own steam.  Yet, the circumstances may not turn out as we had hoped because we did not "wait on the Lord".   Just as the Prodigal son found himself feeding the pigs, we may find ourselves wallowing in the same slop because we failed to take the time to wait.
     One of my favorite scripture verses reads:  "...but they that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk
and not faint."  This is clearly one of the virtues of waiting for the Lord.  When we pray, we need to commit ourselves and our concerns into God's hands.  His timing is perfect because He knows the beginning and the end of all things.  Often God tarries to see if we will trust Him with the matter completely.  He may even test us and try us, but if we truly want the best answers, we will wait upon the Lord.
More fun at the gathering
     Think for a moment how the story of the Prodigal Son would have ended if the young man had been patient to wait upon God's timing.  He would not have had to suffer the consequences of his impulsive sin nature that rebelled against his father's care.  God patiently waits for us as sinners to return to Him when He calls us.  Then, when we come to Him, He asks us to be holy as He is holy and display the fruit of the Spirit which is patience.  We are to wait upon His wisdom, His guidance and His timing in our lives.  When we do, we will find our lives fruitful, blessed and rich in Christ.  We must never depend upon emotion, impulsive desires, or our own deceitful hearts when considering important matters as believers.  Rather, we must lean fully upon God's grace and wait for Him.  If we do, we, too, will mount up with wings as eagles and run and not be weary.  Selah!

No comments: