Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting. – Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
We spend much of our lives waiting.
“I’m waiting for Mr. Right.”
“I can’t talk right now. I’m waiting for an important call.”
“I can’t wait for this baby to be born!”
“The sign says the wait for that ride is 45 minutes. I’m waiting.”
“I’m not taking the job. I’m waiting for something better.”
“Wait for the signal.”
“Just wait. Your day is coming.”
I wonder just how much of my life I’ve spent waiting – waiting for the right opportunities, waiting out the wrong ones, waiting for things to get better, waiting for things to get worse, waiting for the day when I’ll have more time, waiting for the time to pass.
Here’s the funny thing about waiting: Waiting is always about the next thing. By waiting, we’re either fixing our hopes or our fears on the next moment, which could change everything. Did you catch that? I said “the next moment.” It’s not about now. It’s about what’s coming.
And do you know what happens when you fix your eyes on what’s coming? Generally not a whole lot. Waiting often is an exercise in inertia. It’s hard for us to move forward when we don’t know what we’re moving forward toward. Or so we say.
That’s what happened to the Thessalonians, whom Paul admonished in his epistles. The church was so intent on waiting for an imminent appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ that people gave up their jobs to sit around on their duffs day in and day out to watch the sky for fear of being left behind. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10.) So Paul gave them a hand-slapping and told them, “Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:11).
That verse, I believe, holds an important key for us in our continual periods of waiting. Though we may not be exactly sure where life’s next turn is taking us, we can still choose to redeem the time by making the best possible use of it. Paul warned the Thessalonians that their slackness didn’t sit well with people on the outside. Similarly, Colossians 4:5 tells us, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”
The outside world watches Christians like an egret watches a minnow. It’s looking for an opportunity to strike out at us. We want the world to see us as diligent, joyful, loving. And you know what? They should see us loving life. Yes, loving life. “Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
We want to exude – to live – a vibrant faith. A vibrant faith is an active faith. “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). James, Jesus’ brother, knew what it was to waste time. He did some of that during his brother’s earthly ministry, when he couldn’t get past the whole “my-brother-is-God-in-flesh” thing. But he changed his tune and became a drop-kicker for the Jerusalem church, which he exhorted to get up and get on with life, the life that is found in Christ. “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves,” James said.
On the surface, it may seem as if we’re talking about two separate issues. We’re not. If you’re not moving forward, you’re not doing. If you’re not doing, you’re not a doer. And if you’re not a doer, you’re a hearer only.
There’s one thing worth waiting for, but in our waiting we soar above our circumstances: “Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the LORD will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won't become weary. They will walk and won't grow tired” (Isaiah 40:31). If our hope is placed in Christ, if our waiting is for what is beyond this life, we’ll have the strength and the endurance to press on. But if our hopes and fears are fixed on this life, we suffer weariness and inertia.
NO! That’s not for you. Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.
I’m not going to stay where I am any longer. I’ve found my bright place. I’m moving in that direction. I don’t know every step along the way, but Jesus has told me He’s the way. I’ll find it, and when I do, the band will be playing. So what are you waiting for?