Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Waiting Game

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

I hate waiting.

After twenty-eight years of marriage, my husband and I have decided to get a dog. This decision involved a lengthy multiple month process of much discussion and thought. It was a huge commitment. We haven’t had a dog, ever, in our married life. Raising four children was enough for any one couple to survive. But now they are grown. So we decided the time was finally right to commit to a pet.

We began by searching the internet. Adopting seemed like the best option. So many animals are in need of a family. We scoured the pictures of dogs waiting for a home. Then on Saturday, we visited two pounds in the area. Dogs stood at the doors of their cages, frantically begging to be taken out of there and loved. It was heartbreaking. Yet we did not find the dog.

Finally after all of that looking, we decided that we really had our hearts set on a Labrador Retriever. So we filled out two very long and intrusive applications to the two local lab rescue organizations. They have yet to respond. So we wait.

I feel like most of my life is a waiting game. I guess I'd better get used to it. For writers, waiting is a lifestyle. You labor and agonize over a piece. When it is finally ready to be reviewed by an editor, you send it in. And you . . . wait. Sometimes for months. Waiting on publishers for a reply to a book manuscript is even more painful. So much more is at stake. You are at the mercy of the powers that be. No inquiry or nagging will help your cause. You just have to wait.

My son Daniel is in the agony of the wait. He has applied to several grad schools to begin PhD work. They are taking their time getting back to him. So he waits.

It seems like very little in this world comes to us without involving a wait. In this era of instant messaging and internet information just seconds away from our fingertips, waiting still continues to play in a large part of our lives. In the frustration of the wait, we need to know that God has purposes for the time period we must endure. He is at work in the wait.

Abraham had a wait. He was promised a son at the age of 75. Baby Isaac was not born until Abraham reached the ripe old age of 100. Twenty-five years of waiting. Yet as we examine what scripture tells us about his wait, we can see the Lord using the time to slowly change Abraham. He was a man whose belief in God had been counted as righteousness. Yet he wasn’t perfect in his faith. He hid the truth about Sarah being his wife to save his own skin, not once, but twice. This was not the action of a man who totally trusted God. Finally, Isaac was born. And some thirty-odd years later after the original promise, we see the same Abraham who failed to trust God for his life now trudging up the mountain with the intent of slaying and sacrificing his long awaited heir. Abraham’s fledgling trust in God had matured. He was ready to pay the ultimate cost in obedience. God had changed him in the wait.

God is extremely efficient with time. He does not waste a minute. Every moment that we wait, He is at work in us, gently and slowly changing us. The wait makes us fret. As we struggle, we turn to Him. We learn to trust Him on a deeper level than ever before.

Plants have a survival abilities called tropisms. They are growth in response to different stimuli in the plant's environment. Hydrotropism is a plant’s ability to grow towards a water source. A tree’s roots sense water and grow toward it. Most of the tree’s water supply is from above ground, as precipitation drops from the sky. This would mean the roots would remain shallow, growing only near the surface of the soil, if rainfall amounts and timing remained consistent. However, there are also long periods of drought in the life of a tree. So the tree’s roots are forced to grow deep, toward the ground water which lies deep under the surface of the earth. Those deep roots are what will allow the tree to withstand the wind and storms which will occur in its lifetime. Drought is good for a tree.

And so is the wait good for us. As we helplessly stand by, tapping our foot and pacing the floor, we reach out to God in new ways for help to endure the wait. Our trust in Him grows. The roots of our faith have grown deeper than before.

I hate waiting. Yet I understand that waiting is one of God’s most effective tools. As we strive to live for Him, the accomplishments, like getting published or into grad school, are just the icing on the cake. Real life is all about the process of getting there. The important stuff happens during the wait.

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