I dont’ know about you, but I don’t “wait” very well. Especially if I don’t know how long I have to wait. Or what, exactly, I’m waiting for. But over this past couple of weeks I discovered that I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way. In fact, I saw two Biblical examples that I had never before connected: The Golden Calf in Exodus and Pentecost in Acts.
In Exodus, we see the children of Israel released from the bondage of Egypt by God’s great hand and Moses climbing the mountain to meet with that God. We get the skinny on God and Moses conversation (which I’ll mention again in a minute), then we get Exodus 32:1.
When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
He was so long in coming. They couldn’t wait. They wanted to move forward.
Jump across many centuries and we find an interestingly similar situation. Jesus has walked the earth, been crucified and resurrected to life again. In other words, he has led those who believe in Him out of the bondage of sin in a miraculous way. Before He ascends again to the Father, we read Acts 1:4.
One one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about.”
Another waiting, though with some indication of what they were waiting for. And yet, not really. They had no idea what the Holy Spirit would be, how He would arrive. Or when it would happen. Jesus gave them no time frame, just told them to wait.
In both situations God asks a people who seemed to be going toward something to wait to walk in it. But why? What was God’s purpose in their waiting? So many times we assume waiting is for the cultivation of some character quality. Or even the issuing of some punishment. But what if there’s more to it than that? What if, like the children of Israel and the disciples, there is some other purpose? When you look at what God was doing and what He was giving through both of this situations you see that He was asking them to wait in order to give them the equipment and information they needed to move forward.
The children of Israel needed to know how to please and worship this God who had chosen them as His own so they could go forth in victory and received the land promised to them. They needed the law and the tabernacle, exactly the things God was giving to Moses while they lost patience with the waiting. The disciples need all that Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would give them (power, conviction, remembrance of Jesus’ words, comfort) before going into the world to preach the gospel and make disciples. Unlike their ancestors, they did choose to wait. They even chose to do constructive things in the waiting, things that would prepare them when it was time to move forward, like appointing an apostle to take Judas’s spot.
Now, Biblical examples are all well and good. And I do learn from them. But the most interesting part of revelation of this connection between two waiting events was what happened to me in between. I’d had a couple of writing projects on my desk (one is still there) that I just wanted to get finished. But I couldn’t seem to make them work. And in that frustrating time of waiting, a piece of information I didn’t know I needed crossed my path. And then the thing fell into place, with the writing that had been so hard now coming easily. In the midst of understanding a Biblical truth about waiting in a new way, God showed it to me in my own life. Isn’t that cool?
I have no illusions that I’ll suddenly become perfect at waiting, but these examples from past and present definitely put a new face it. Waiting comes down to the state of my faith. Will I believe that God is not indifferent or absent but is working so that I will have the information and equipment I need to do what He’s asked of me? Or will I be impatient, like the children of Israel, and seek to push ahead before Him? I know which I want to be true of me. And sometimes knowing is half the battle.