Something that nobody likes is waiting. Especially Americans. Especially me. Waiting is hard to do but we do it a lot. Traffic. Restaurants. Lines at Walmart. I really don’t get that last one because of the ten thousand check out stations but the three checkers.
We wait for a lot of things and waiting is hard because we want what we want right now. Instant gratification is something we are trained to get and when we don’t we get impatient. We get angry. We begin to move into this realm of entitlement that is definitely unhealthy.
Obviously impatience is not something God wants for us. Neither is anger or entitlement. So then why the waiting? Why is so much of our life about waiting?
I remember after I graduated high school and moving into the college phase of my life. There was a small section of that time where I was glad to be out on my own, doing my own thing, etc. But after I accepted my call to ministry and started attending a bible college and working in ministry, my wants began to change. I wasn’t so big on the “on your own” lifestyle. I craved relationships. Obviously friendships, but marriage too. I wanted to be married early on, I’d say even as early as my 20’s.
I was married on June 30, 2007. When I got married I was 27 years, 8 months, and 11 days old. Seven years of waiting.
During my waiting time, I unfortunately produced a lot of metaphorical Ishmaels. Don’t judge me. I am not the only one who has tried to make something happen on my own. I settled for Ishmaels instead of waiting for Isaac. Waiting on God was tough. At times I forced my hand. At times I laughed at the process like Sarah laughing at God’s plan. Why the wait? Why the struggle?
I think there are two main reasons why we have to wait and they both deal with preparation. First, I needed that time of waiting so that God could prepare me. If you are in a holding pattern right now in your life, it is highly possible that God is trying to develop something in you or remove something from you. If I had been smarter, I would have seen that. I wouldn’t have gotten frustrated with the all powerful God who could give me what I wanted at the whisper of his lips. “God you know this would make me happy. Why won’t you give it to me?” The simple answer is that had he given it to me, I would have destroyed it.
Ask yourself an honest question: if God gave you that thing you are waiting for, would you destroy it? There were times during those seven years where I know I would have destroyed that relationship I so desperately wanted. I needed time. Time to grow. Time to get some things out of my system. Time to allow God to develop me. Time to allow God to prepare me for what he wanted for me. Time, even, to realize that the thing I wanted wasn’t the thing I needed. I needed time to wait. I didn’t like it. I didn’t do it properly. But in the end, the waiting was necessary to get me to the right place for the relationship God had for me.
Let’s talk about Joseph. Joseph was a 17 year old boy in his father’s house when God gave him the dream about ruling over his family. The next day, he didn’t become second in Egypt. The next day after the dream he probably went and milked a goat or herded some sheep or something. And at dinner later that night, he wasn’t dictating commands to a nation, he was ticking his family off so much that the brothers concocted a plan to kill him. Then it was into a pit then into slavery then into a house then into jail and finally the throne room. 13 years of toil, 13 years of trials, 13 years of waiting.
Why the wait? A part of it was because Joseph needed some development. As terrible as the situations in which he found himself were, he needed to learn the lessons in each trial. Those moments developed character in him that he didn’t have at the dinner table at his dad’s house. As bad as the years between the dream and the fulfillment were, they were good for him and prepared him for that moment when he would interpret a dream for a nobody cupbearer in a cold prison cell.
Take a moment to realize that the fulfillment of Jospeh’s dream occurred because of a man Joseph met in prison. Would the story of Joseph play out like it did had he not met the cupbearer there? I find it fascinating that the cupbearer was the bridge to the fulfillment. Not pharoah. Not Jospeh’s father. Not some high up official. A cupbearer. And in prison! You know, Joseph would most likely not met the cupbearer if he hadn’t been in prison too. I wonder how many times in my life I was so busy griping about having to wait that I missed the cupbearer God sent to serve as the bridge to the dream’s fulfillment. Joseph needed that time to develop. You do too.
So preparing you is one reason you are waiting. But perhaps you have been faithful in the waiting, close to God, growing closer, allowing him to change you and adjust you and develop you. Then maybe it is the second reason…
Using the illustration of Joseph again, when God gave him the dream, Egypt didn’t need him. When I wanted to be married at 20, my wife – the one God created for me – was 13. She wasn’t ready to be married.
Your wait might not be because you need to develop but rather because your dream needs to develop. That perfect mate might not be ready yet. That perfect job might not be open yet. That perfect opportunity might not be available yet. All the time Joseph was on his journey, Egypt wasn’t ready. It didn’t matter if he was in his dad’s house, potiphars’s house, or even the big house, the dream wasn’t ready yet.
So what do we do with that? The simple harsh answer is wait more. But the honest answer is be faithful. God isn’t asking you to abandon your dream, but to wait on his timing. And the way we wait and honor God is by trusting that timing. You may feel like you missed it. Your faithfulness will keep that form happening. You might feel like that connection you needed is gone. Your faithfulness will bring the right person at the right time. You may feel like it is taking too long. Faithfulness will keep your focus on the right thing. You might fell like you should be further down the road than you are in life. Faithfulness will keep your perspective accurate.
Waiting can really stink, but it doesn’t have to. I know in my life I wish I could have been more faithful in the waiting. My impatience caused me to produce some Ishmaels that I wish I had never produced. Waiting for the promise is hard, I will admit that, but friend, waiting for God’s perfect timing is worth it.
I’ve always said the right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing. If you are having a hard time waiting, stop focusing on being on time and start focusing on being faithful. And when the right time comes, and the right season presents itself, you are going to get to step out of that holding pattern and walk straight into God’s perfect plan for your life.