Waiting On God

June 2018
 
By Jeremiah Krieger
 
“This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’”— Acts 7:38-40
 
One of my favorite experiences in Holyoke is going to the Marketplace because the people are always friendly, and especially because they are always looking to keep their lines short. This is a gift to parents who have children because there aren’t endless aisles of impulse buy items to tempt the kiddos, nor do they have to stare at these items for a half hour or more while you have to wait to check out.
 
It was torture going to the grocery store most days in Dallas— especially when kids had to come along. Every parent who is going to survive a trip to Walmart without having a stroke or heart attack because of the stress of bringing the children along has to have a game plan before ever going. It was always a rat race trying to figure out the fastest lane to check out.
 
I remember impatiently trying to walk past other customers on the way to the checkout…almost like it was an unadvertised race that everyone in the store was registered for. You scope out the lines as quickly as possible and pray to the Lord that you make the wisest decision in which line you will spend your eternity waiting— lines that back up to the women’s clothing aisle. I was pretty sure that when Jesus spoke of Gehenna, this was probably close to what he was talking about.
 
And then there was the waiting. And waiting. Slowly, I would start to slouch on the cart. Waiting for the line to move. Keeping my eyes fixed on the lanes next to me. Wondering if I was “winning” this race that I seemed to be in. Endless, endless waiting. I would impatiently wonder in my head, “What is that cashier doing? Are they even working?” (I’ve never been the most patient person in the world. I would rather drive extra miles than sit in a traffic jam. At least I would have a sense of making progress. But I am learning.)
 
There are times in our life when we need to learn to wait patiently on God because it seems like He isn’t working. Patience is not something that you have to pray for (or that I would recommend anyone to do). If you want to learn patience, just go to a big city. God will give you many “at bats” to take a swing at patience.
 
Waiting on God isn’t easy. This week during my devotionals, I was reading through Acts when Stephen was giving his defense before the Sanhedrin. He recounts Israel’s history before the Council, and I was reminded of that time when Israel had just experienced an incredible emotional and spiritual high. God had majestically delivered his people from the hands of Pharaoh. It was the single greatest act of redemption since Noah and his family being spared from the flood. It was the greatest act of redemption on earth until the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross.
 
God delivered Israel, and then came the waiting. It was like the train that was moving 100mph came to a jarring halt. God was really preparing Israel for the next step of the journey, but what Israel saw was eternal lines at the grocery store. Moses was supposed to go up to the mountain to get a word from God, but he didn’t come back so quickly. And the people waited. And they waited. And they waited some more.
Crickets were chirping. People were fixed in an empty spiritual daze. Until finally, someone said, “Hey, let’s do something! I’m bored. God has kinda left us hanging here, so it looks like we need to find our own path.
 
So, God’s people impatiently pushed God aside. “Forget waiting on Moses,” they thought. And their hearts turned back to Egypt. They would rather go back to the bondage and heavy labor of slavery than to wait on God. Going back to Egypt became a romantic idea. The people took steps back to idol worship.
 
When Moses found out about this from God, it did not go well for God’s people. There was an incredible loss of life because Israel searched for blessing and prosperity outside of God. Fortunately, though, Moses was able to intervene on Israel’s behalf, and for the sake of God’s reputation the Lord relented from completely destroying his people.
 
Waiting on God can bring out the weakness of our faith sometimes. Especially when we are new to the faith and have experienced salvation in our own life, there are times when God makes us wait: maybe it is for a job; or maybe it is for a new spark of life in our marriage; maybe it is for direction in life. Perhaps in these moments, we would turn back to sin and toward an impulsive decision that would ultimately rob us of the blessing that is waiting for us if we just wait a little more patiently for God to provide.
 
While we wait for God to work, we can be tempted to look back to Egypt. An old way of sinful living that once was a slave master that brought us pain suddenly looks charming. Waiting can cause angst to build in the heart. That angst can turn to frustration. That frustration can become an impulse that might cause increased frustration or even tear our life apart.
 
Life is full of ups and downs. There are good times and bad— satisfaction and longing for more. We go through these cycles. But as we go through it all, just like God was working on behalf of Israel through Moses back then (even when Israel could not comprehend), God is working on our behalf today.
 
The Apostle Paul praised God because of the work God was doing that was greater than what the Church at Ephesus could comprehend. In Ephesians 3:20-21, Paul proclaims, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
 
When we enter into those seasons of waiting, instead of turning back to Egypt, let’s turn toward God. He is doing far more abundantly than all that we ask, or think, according to the power at work within us! In those moments when life seems to move like the aisle of a grocery store in a big city, give God praise. He is up to something!
 
Pastor Jeremiah