Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Benefits of Waiting

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart:  wait, I say on the Lord.”  Psalm 27:14 (KJV)

Zachary loves Christmas.  Actually, the word “loves” doesn’t come close to describing his deep affection for it!  His enthusiasm over the wonder of the season is contagious, and seeing it all through his eyes, makes me appreciate it even more than I already do.  He loves it so much that we start really early at our house….decorating, shopping, planning our baking, and making homemade gifts.  The fact that we start so early allows us to enjoy the season longer, but it also makes it harder for Zach to wait! 

Every night, he waits up until midnight, and before he goes to bed, he checks off another day on the calendar in his room.  He will yell to me, “Mama, it’s just ____ more days”, after he counts them down.  And every day, he stares at his pile of gifts, and tells me how he doesn’t know how he’ll stand to wait until Christmas Eve (which is when we open our gifts) to open them!  He was born on December 26th, which makes this time of year even more special to him….and the wait even more agonizing!  He waits all year long for his two absolute favorite days of all. 

I guess none of us enjoy waiting, when we stop and think about it.  And who would consider “waiting” as a heart-strengthening exercise?  Times in my life spent waiting, have always seemed like wasted time to me.  I always feel like I should be “doing” something in order to be productive.  But, according to today’s Scripture, times of waiting are valuable to God, because during our time of waiting, He is doing a work in us.  While we are waiting, an internal toning and strengthening process is taking place.  Stamina is being built.  Endurance is being enhanced.  The heart is receiving strength.

We live in a busy world.  We all want whatever we want…now.  We don’t like waiting, and we aren’t typically patient people.  We have become very intolerant of having to wait for anything at all.  Therefore, we have become a spiritually-weakened body of Christ, because we fight against the very thing that will give us renewed vigor and strength. 

There are times in our lives that I believe God purposely allows circumstances to occur so that we are forced to wait.  It is not that God enjoys seeing us frustrated during our waiting.  But, it is because He knows waiting not only strengthens our heart, but it renews our strength .  Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  Waiting allows us to rest, and while resting our strength is renewed. 

I think the worst part of waiting is the indefinite aspect.  While waiting on God, we don’t know how long our waiting will take.  If we had a set date that our waiting would be over, we would have a visible goal to work towards, like Zachary has while counting down the days to Christmas.  Knowing he is one day closer to his goal each day encourages him that he has one less day to wait. 

God doesn’t give us the expiration date of our trials as we go through them.  We just have to trust Him and….wait.  I remember a comment one of my co-workers, Priscilla, made to me after waiting 12 ½ years for a child of our own.  Zachary had just been born, and I had taken him into the bank where I worked to let everyone see him.  After commenting about Zachary being so precious, she said, “Cheryl, wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to wait if you knew you had this to look forward to?”  I thought back over all of those long years of waiting, and I realized she was so right.  Had I known that one day God would send us Heaven’s best and that we truly would have our own child, it would have made all of those years of waiting a lot easier to endure. 

Just as we do not know how long our trials will last, none of us know the expiration date of our lives or when Jesus will come back.  He told His disciples shortly before He ascended in Acts 1:7 (KJV) “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”  What we do know, however, is that our earthly lives will end one day…either by death or by the coming of Jesus Christ, whichever comes first.

When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure from earth, He told them in John 14:2 (KJV), “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”  And what a place it will be!  I Corinthians 2:9 (KJV) says, But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  In verse 3 of John 14, Jesus went on to tell His disciples that He would come again and receive them unto Himself, “that where I am, ye may be also.”  That is a promise!

We do our best, with the resources we have, to make Zachary’s Christmas as special as it can be each year.  It is our hope that when he sees the things we’ve bought for him, he will feel that it was worth the wait and all the time he spent marking off the days until he could open them.  Sometimes life can be hard and toilsome and even become a burden.  Trials beset us on every hand, and we begin to wonder if it is even worth while to keep pressing forward.  Sometimes, we can forget that God has something wonderful in store for all of us, and this life with all its problems, tests, and tribulations, is simply a place to wait…for the eternal.

Zachary hasn’t opened his presents, but he has faith to believe that the neatly wrapped packages aren’t empty.  He has hope to believe that if he waits, he will open the packages to find gifts inside.  We haven’t seen Heaven, but in our hearts, we have faith to believe it is real.  If we could interview those who have gotten to that wonderful place ahead of us, they would all agree on one thing….it is definitely worth the wait!  So, remember this, my friend.  Waiting upon God is not a waste of time or without purpose.  It is strengthening to your heart, and at the end of your waiting, there is great reward.

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