Work While You Wait

stomach poster

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

  • JackW

    I’m sure when we fall under a government run heath care system they will fix all that waiting stuff. ;) Psalms 20:7 comes to mind.

    Romans 8:25 says “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” I’m thinking that if we wait in the way in which you describe, than impatience wouldn’t be a problem.

  • Dan Smith

    I just wrote a week ago about how tired I was of the waiting game that is Christianity. How wonderful to see a post dealing with just that issue! I have already realized some areas of my life that I need to be more active in, like mentoring a young convert who needs help. Great post and just the kick in the pants I need!

  • JM Keppick

    As I sit contemplating why God is keeping me waiting in a place I don't want to be, He has used you to show me that even now, in this place, I must actively seek His will and actively do His work. My walk shouldn't depend on the place where I am, but rather following His purpose and truly being a Christ follower, which means relationship and toiling in the vineyard where He has me at this moment.

  • mvaltrogge

    Hi JM,

    You are so right, our walk shouldn't depend on our circumstances but on following Christ. And in any circumstances we can still bear fruit for Christ. Thanks for your comments.

  • mvaltrogge

    Hi Dan,

    I'm grateful the post would encourage you. Yep, there are lots of people to help even while we're waiting. Thanks!

  • mvaltrogge

    Hey Jack,

    If we're waiting for this world to improve, we will often be disappointed, but as you said, we're waiting "for what we do not see." Great Scripture to add – thanks.

  • Linda

    Thanks, Mark, for sharing this timely post. I am reminded that we are not just supposed to passively wait around as we pray, but to be about the Lord's work in serving others. And God is gracious and always answers in an abundant fashion – so much better than we could have ever imagined!

    Hope you and Kristi and your family have a blessed 2010!

  • Jessica

    Thanks for this timely post Mark. My household and I have really been feeling this lately. Lost…what is life about. What are we supposed to be doing? Do we need a transition? Is this a sign to do something different with our lives or to be where we are now and serve in that place. What would you say about those who out of their dark night or "waiting period" pour themselves into ministry to give some purpose to their lives, to feel better about themselves, but are not really motivated by the Love God has for them? Is that good, not good? How could that be different than distracting yourself with exercise, or chocolate or re-runs of I Love Lucy?

  • mvaltrogge

    Hi Linda!

    You are certainly an example of being a diligent servant of Jesus. Thanks for your comments and thanks for the beautiful Christmas card! Hope you have a great new year too.

  • mvaltrogge

    Hi Jessica,

    First of all, my heart goes out to you. I don't know what you're going through, but I feel sad that you are feeling lost and in a "dark night." I know that the Lord is waiting to guide you and he promises that he will in PS 32.8: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." So continue to seek him. It is possible he has a change in store for you. But until you know what that is, seek him for grace to serve him for his glory, not to feel good about yourself. Ministry will always fail to provide joy if we're looking to ministry for it. Only Jesus can provide true joy. What he desires for us while waiting in the dark is do what we can with the motive of his glory. He will then take care of the joy. You are right – if we're not motivated by Christ's love and glory, then distracting ourself with ministry is no different than with I Love Lucy. Very insightful. Thanks for your humility to share this.

  • bondChristian

    I like the emphasis on getting into the trenches and doing something while we're waiting. God's given us so much to do that doesn't require further approval from Him. Just the classic, "Love your neighbor," for example… you can do that without having to wait on God to see if it's HIs will. We already know it is.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

    • mvaltrogge

      Amen, Marshall! "Love your neighbor" is a great place to start – can't go wrong there.

  • Ron Reffett

    Ahhh, waiting! One of the many things that my sinful heart hates to do. Thanks for yet another encouraging word Mark, I find myself in a place of waiting, funny I was just thinking about this today at work. I sometimes wonder why I'm in the place that I am in when there are so many other things that I would rather be doing, don't get me wrong I am very grateful for my job, I just want to not do it for the rest of my life! Then I realize that I'm in the ever capable hands of my Father and He has me where He wants me, training me for eternity and preparing a fullness of joy for me that my finite mind simply cannot conmprehend right now, all I can do is serve the Lord where I am and look for opportuities to serve others where I am. Great post, thanks again for the great encouragement!
    Ron Reffett

    • mvaltrogge

      Hey Ron,

      It really takes the eyes of faith to see that God is training us for joy we can't comprehend right now. I'm sure God is using you where you are, as hard as it may be to see. His hand of Providence has placed you there to bear much fruit. Who knows who you may influence for the Lord? Thanks for your example of patient persevering faith.

  • Jessica Britt

    Very encouraging. Thank you!!!

    • mvaltrogge

      Thanks Jessica!