Much of the Christian life consists of patiently waiting in faith for God to fulfill his promises.
We wait for God to answer our prayers to provide. We wait for God’s timing to give us wisdom. We wait for the Lord to direct us into our vocation in life. We wait for God to provide a spouse, a house or children. We wait patiently for God to save and transform our children. We wait for the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in our lives. We wait for God’s comfort in the midst of tragedy. We wait for Jesus’ return and the promise of seeing his face and being fully transformed into his likeness.
What do we do while we’re waiting? Faith and patience seem so passive.
Like a doctor’s waiting room. You walk through the doors and the 36 people who fill every seat in the room look at you with bloodshot eyes, pain-creased foreheads and red runny noses and you wonder if there are any seats in the next county so you don’t get infected. You know it’s going to be an interminable wait. You seek distraction in either Field and Stream magazine or a brochure on reflux. By the time the nurse calls your name, you barely remember it, but you leap to your feet only to be led down the hall to a room on the right where you continue to wait, only relieving your boredom by looking at the posters of medical illustrations of intestines and sinus infections that grace the walls.
Is this what waiting in the Christian life looks like? No way. Our waiting is active waiting. We work while we wait.
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (HEB 6.10-12)
Notice that writer of Hebrews commends the Hebrews for their “work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints.” Then he urges each of them to “show the same earnestness,” to keep diligent working for Christ, because actively laboring for Jesus produces “the full assurance of hope until the end.” The author urges his readers not to “be sluggish” but to keep imitating the diligence and earnestness of others who by working while they patiently wait in faith inherit God’s promises.
We work while we wait.
Not in our own strength, but by the grace of God. Don’t sit around, serve somebody. Don’t lay around bemoaning your bad fortune, look to the interests of others. Serve wherever there’s an opening, whenever you have a chance. Pray hard, read the word, consciously give God thanks and praise for everything you can. Visit someone who’s sick or call or send them a card. Call an unbelieving friend and ask if you can take him to lunch or read through a gospel with him. Do what you can. Work while you wait.
photo by SqueakyMarmot