Thursday, May 04, 2006
Have you ever been told to wait? It can birth feelings of frustration, impatience, humiliation, and invigoration. Even all four at once! Usually the emotions following waiting depend on what we’re waiting for. Some say, “I can’t wait to get married! I can’t wait to get out of school! I can’t wait in line, I’m an important person!” Despite who we are, we all find ourselves waiting. What is it about waiting that perturbs us humans? Yes, waiting for something pleasurable (like a gift) is a lot different then waiting to hear a doctor’s report on if you have cancer or not. But I’m not focusing on the thing we’re waiting for, but on waiting itself.
In Acts 1:4 Jesus tells His disciples,
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”
Some suggest Jesus is restoring His disciple’s faith by asking them to wait in Jerusalem. He’s giving them a second chance to not run off and desert Him like they did when He was crucified. Others say it was to fuel their desire and want for the Gift He promised. No matter how you view this, one thing remains…they had to wait. More importantly, Jesus asked them to wait. What? God asking us to wait? Seems kind of absurd! Especially since we live in a society drenched in instant this and instant that. Waiting just doesn’t fit into the picture here. Or does it?
Throughout the book of Acts we find people waiting. Numerous times we find the disciples waiting in jail (Acts 5:18, 12:5, 16:23), Paul had to wait to receive his sight back after his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:9), and the Gentile Christians at Antioch had to wait to hear the verdict on if they were to be circumcised or not (Acts 15:1, 5). Waiting is everywhere! *Even before the book of Acts, in the Gospels, the disciples have to wait three days for their Savior to rise from the dead.
In our day and age people are cleverly thinking up new ways to make waiting shorter. We have drive-thru restaurants, drive-thru banks, and now drive-thru prescription pick-ups. Imagine your grandparent’s reaction to hearing that when it was first announced. Think of how frustrating it is when you have to wait in a drive-thru? (There has to be some irony here. The drive-thru was invented so you wouldn’t have to wait, right?) You know what I’m talking about. The guy/gal in front of you orders that “special burger” that takes 10 minutes to make. So, you’re forced into staring at their bumper sticker, which reads, “Proud parent of an honor student.” Or the other classic, “Proud parent of a kid who beat up your honor student!” Nevertheless, you’re left waiting.
I once heard it took all day to do laundry by hand, now it takes an hour or two. We can have dinner ready in minutes. That should give us at least an hour or so of extra free time from the normal time it would take to prepare a hearty dinner, right? With things working quicker and us not having to wait so much, you would think we would have more free time. Think again! I surveyed my own life during the week and I was amazed at how little free time I have. It seems every shortcut taken to save time was canceled out. Why? Because I kept filling my schedule with one more thing. The fact that we can do more things quicker only means we can do more things. It’s like I don’t want to have to wait around, so I busy myself doing something else. I try really hard to eliminate waiting in my life. Should I be doing that?
Looking back to Acts 1, I think Jesus was on to something when He asked His disciples to wait? Maybe there’s something to learn about God here. If Jesus deems it necessary to wait, then maybe waiting isn’t so bad. Jesus could have instantly given the disciples the Holy Spirit, but instead He asked them to wait. Maybe He was preparing them for the Christian life, which waiting is embedded in. How? As Christians, we all universally have something we’re waiting for. Maybe I should say Someone. The return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Someday (I hope it’s soon!) the waiting will be over. So, the next time you find yourself waiting, let it remind you of the hope we have as Christians. Hope in our Lord’s return. Let Him teach you in that sometimes frustrating, impatient, humiliating, and invigorating moment of waiting that He is one day coming back.
- Do you cringe when you have to wait for something?
- What do you think God is trying to teach us by having us wait?
- Is there anything you have learned about God or life through waiting?
- Do you think it’s cruel that God sometimes has us wait for things?
- Why do you think Jesus told them to wait?