Waiting is a common theme in scripture. The Bible was written by men who were well acquainted with waiting and the issue is repeatedly addressed. A favorite and often quoted verse on the subject is Psalm 27:14. "Wait on the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord." As encouraging as those words may be, they are also a bit perplexing. How does one wait on the Lord? The command is given but where are the step-by-step instruction?
Throughout the Bible there is scripture, commands and testimonies that teach us how to wait. In fact, the whole Bible is one big textbook on waiting. From Abraham to Paul, God has been teaching men and women how to wait and documenting it all the while. Pondering the lives of these waiting men and the scriptures given to us in order to guide our waiting, I whittled down the act of waiting into four words. There are a variety of words I could have chosen but in the spirit of sermonizing I picked words to suit the acronym "w-a-i-t."
So, without further ado, a simplification of how to wait.
W....worship. There is no shortage of scripture that tells the believer to worship. The word "praise" is used nearly 300 times in the Bible. Add in worship, rejoice, exalt and glorify and what you have is an entire book HIGHLY suggesting one action: worship God alone. The Bible doesn't say, "worship when you get your blessing" or "worship on Sundays." It says to worship. Psalm 100:2 says, "Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs." There are no stipulations or exceptions on that command. You and I, if we are in Christ and sons and daughters of God, must worship. So, while we wait, let's worship. The time of waiting is actually a perfect time to worship. Not only does it redirect our attentions away from the challenge of waiting but it gives us a new perspective on the very act of waiting. If you decide to be a worshiper in the midst of being a waiter, you might find that you aren't so concerned about the wait after all.
A...anticipate. James wrote, "Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near." (5:7-8). James used a familiar analogy to convey a fundamental principal of waiting on the Lord: wait with anticipation. The farmer waits on his crop, knowing that through the rains and the storms a harvest is being nurtured. During our times of waiting, through our own life storms, something is being nurtured and cultivated in us and in our lives. We have the promise of the good things to come because God said, "I know the plans I have for you...plans for hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11). As we wait on the Lord those promises are being worked out. Like the farmer and his crop, you and I have to wait before the promises of God are fulfilled in our lives. But, just like that farmer, we can wait with great anticipation at the great harvest that will spring forth at the perfect, God-ordained time.
I....inspire. As Paul was in prison he did a lot of waiting. Prison back in New Testament times had that in common with prison today. There is a lot of time to wait. Paul was waiting to see if he would be released, would live or die, or would ever see his fellow Christian brothers and sisters again. He didn't know. He was waiting to see what God had for his future. Paul didn't let the act of waiting cause him to be a downer or a complainer. Instead, he took the challenge of waiting and turned it into a lesson of inspiration for his fellow believers. In his letters he wrote words of continual encouragement. He used his story of suffering and waiting as a way to inspire others to wait on the Lord. In Philippians 3:20 he wrote, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ..." The act of waiting in Paul's life inspired others to wait on the Lord with patience and hope. It is amazing how those same words are still inspiring fellow believers today?
T....testify. A command as prevalent in the Bible as worshiping is testifying to the greatness of God and the salvation found in Jesus Christ. While we are waiting we can be sharing that testimony. Our conversation can be focused on our plight and challenge of waiting or those same interactions can be used to testify to the glory of God and the new life bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. "This is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." (1 John 5:11). Every child of God has a universal story to share, and it is bigger and far more important than our story of waiting. We have the story of redemption, salvation, justification and rebirth! Even while we are waiting that can be the story we tell. Our message of Jesus Christ's gift of salvation will be much more impactful and genuine coming from a life that is patiently waiting in faith. Our unshakable faith in the midst of waiting can be our greatest testimony to the lost who are searching for the One true eternal, everlasting hope.
The act of waiting doesn't have to be time wasted. Waiting is a God-given gift that can be used to bring glory and honor to God. He has a purpose for your waiting. Do you trust that? If you do then live out your days of waiting the way God teaches us in the scripture. Worship Him. Anticipate the goodness He has in store. Inspire fellow believers as you wait. And testify to the greatness of the one you are waiting on.