As I was sitting on the ground of the McAllen Airport in Texas, I was frustrated over the failed plans of trying to get back home to New Jersey in time for Christmas. Our team had just completed a mission trip to Reynosa, Mexico which was fruitful despite the freezing weather, and rare ice storm that affected the ability for the plane to take off. To be truthful, because of the freezing ice storm, I was looking forward to going home for Christmas to a nice warm home to spend time with family for the holidays, but that was now in jeopardy because the airport was in the process of closing. Even though we had 2 days to go home, we were told that we wouldn’t make it home for Christmas. They told us that planes were flying out of Houston, an 11 hour van ride, but no car rental place would rent us a van in the ice storm. I pleaded and reasoned with the person that I was from NJ and knew how to drive in the stormy weather, but he wouldn’t budge on his decision. So I was sitting on the ground of the airport frustrated thinking there is nothing I could do. That is when God spoke to me and said to my spirit, “Be still and know that I am God,” and “Wait upon me…”
We left the airport because they shut it down completely, and through an unbelievable series of events, they reopened the airport. We flew out 8 hours later, stayed overnight for free in Houston with a meal, and flew home the next day with a free upgraded first class ticket.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” (Psalm 130:50-6)
I struggle with that word, “wait.” I am a person that can take a yes, or a no, but I don’t handle “wait,” as easily. When I have to deal with waiting, I usually try to take matters into my own hands, trying to make something happen.
I believe that many of us are the same way; we hate waiting. We have microwaves, instant messages, instant soups, and fast foods. We can’t wait to get married, or to get a career. We can’t wait to lose weight, or get better from an illness. We struggle to even wait in traffic, or grocery lines. One of the most frequent and important exhortations in the Scriptures to believers is to “wait on the Lord.” So instead of waiting, we try to take matters into our own hands, or we try to help God out. Many of us, including myself are masters at that. We are people of action, not people that wait. We want patience, but we want it now!
God continually exhorts us throughout the Bible to wait upon Him:
Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 33:20 – “We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.”
Psalm 37:7 – “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
Isaiah 49:23 “…those who wait for Me shall not be put to shame.”
When we don’t wait upon God, we are saying to Him, “I know what I am doing and I can do this on my own.” There is a lot that we can learn from accounts of people in the Bible. We know that they were humans that had successes, but they also had failures as well. They were successful when they waited upon God, and failed when they did not. Some examples of both successes and failures are:
Abraham – was a person who had the patience to wait 75 years to get married. After Abraham took his wife, God promised him a son. Genesis 15:4-5 tells us, “…but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” God told him his offspring would be as numerous as the stars. After 10 years of waiting upon the Lord, he decided to take matters into his own hands and with the prodding of his wife, slept with his handmaiden Hagar. Abraham had a son by Hagar named Ishmael. About 14 years later, Abraham’s wife had a child, Isaac; the one who was the child God had promised would be the blessed offspring of Abraham. Ishmael turned out to be what the Scriptures foretold of him; “a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers.” Ishmael is considered the patriarch of the Arabs, from which came Islam. Abraham’s lack of waiting on God has affected the whole world even until today!
Aaron – Moses had gone up to Mount Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments. While Moses was up there the Israelites became impatient. The Israelites could no longer take waiting for their leaders as Exodus 32:1-4 tells us, “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 this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” So what does the substitute leader Aaron do to appease the impatient Israelites? He builds a golden calf, a false idol, for the Israelites to worship. It is tragic that the impatience of Aaron and the Israelites in not waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain kept them out of the Promised Land.
How many times have we seen Christians believing that Jesus is long in coming back, so they turn to idol worship? Idolatry is giving priority to human desires over God’s will. Are we worshiping the false gods of entertainment, pleasures, and lavish living rather than following God direction for our lives? The consequences for us could be just as tragic.
Israelites in the Desert - The same people that God delivered from Egypt, the same people that crossed through the Red Sea, the same people that God had been providing for, were some of the most complaining people in the history of the world! They left Egypt believing God’s promises and singing His praise. Yet the Bible tells us, “…they soon forgot what He had done and did NOT wait for His counsel” (Psalm 106:13). The lack of waiting for God’s counsel resulted in several million people leaving the bondages of Egypt, but they forfeited their inheritance, and they lost their place in the purposes of God. In the end, only 2 of the original several million people, Joshua and Caleb, went into the Promised Land.
We have success stories for those who did wait upon the Lord. These were people who prayed, and trusted what God said to them. They then acted upon what God said, and He used them in a mighty way.
Noah – Noah is considered one of the heroes of the faith as described in Hebrews 11. God promised Noah there would be a flood, but it was a long time coming. So in faith Noah built the Ark during one of the most wicked times in history while waiting on God to fulfill the promise of the flood. Then while on the ark, he had to wait on the Lord for over a year for the waters to recede and to go back to dry land.
Jacob was a person who had to wait 14 (some say 7) years to get Rachel, the wife he wanted. Imagine even waiting 7 years? The Bible tells us “love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4) How many times have we seen tragic results in relationships because we couldn’t wait on God?
Joseph – Joseph had a vivid dream that God was going to raise him up. His brothers got angry at him and sold him off as a slave. Joseph spent years in prison before God raised him up to be a leader. Instead of moaning and complaining about being in prison, He waited upon God. It took 13 years before God raised Joseph up. Imagine being sold by his brothers, brought to a strange land, falsely accused of rape, and imprisoned, not knowing what the future held. Yet after 13 years he was exalted to the second highest position in Egypt and was used as an instrument to save his family from famine.
King David – David, author of many of the Psalms, was a man who truly knew what waiting on the Lord meant. He had been anointed king at 16 years old, but he didn’t become king until he was 30. While waiting on God to make him king, he was chased through the wilderness by jealous King Saul who was trying to kill him. If you read through the Psalms, you will read how David went through every emotion while fleeing for his life. David even had the chance to kill his adversaries, but instead he waited until God placed him as king.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) God is telling those that are suffering, weak, or feeble, tired or helpless, to wait upon Him. To wait on the Lord means to wait in the sense of expecting, to put our trust and confidence in Him. We are to put our trust in Him to work out what He wants in our lives without us “aiding,” Him.
King David was a person who showed us how to wait upon God. 1 Samuel tells us that he was returning from a war when He found out the Amalekites had attacked his city, setting it on fire and taking all the women and children. So as David approached his home, his house was on fire, and his wives were taken captive. To make matters worse, he had to deal with a group of bitter men who lost their wives and children and wanted to stone him. Instead of coming home to celebrate a victory, he has to figure out what to do. The lessons we can learn from David are invaluable. He is an example of one who was in distress, and in danger of his life and yet still waited upon the Lord.
1) He asked God what to do. Instead of trying to use his own ingenuity, or speaking to his men for direction, He seeks the Lord for his guidance. “David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” (1 Samuel 30:8)
Many times we make mistakes because instead of seeking God, we ask our friends, or even our pastor, but David realized where his guidance came from. This is why David who was coming from a battle to a horrific situation had the ability to advance, because he waited upon the Lord. We have the same privilege as David to come before God with any problem, small or large, and He is longing to help us, if we would just ask Him.
2) David waited for God’s answer. Imagine the pressure David was under? David waited for God to answer. We don’t know if it was a long wait or a short one, but the important part is that he waited. Many times we approach God with a problem, but fail to wait for the answer. Instead, we try to help God along, or we figure something out that makes sense, but did we really hear from God? David sought the Lord and waited for God to say, “Pursue them…you will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”
3) David used God’s answer. God told David to pursue the Amalekites. David was obedient to what God had told him to do. When we wait upon the Lord, we have to be obedient to whatever answer He gives us.
This is one of the main keys of waiting on the Lord, to be obedient to do whatever God says.
3) David used God’s answer. God told David to pursue the Amalekites. David was obedient to what God had told him to do. When we wait upon the Lord, we have to be obedient to whatever answer He gives us. We see that David used God’s answer to pursue the Amalekites in I Samuel 30. On my own strength, I would have been fine if I had rented a van and tried to drive to Houston when I got caught up in the ice storm. I am the type of person that has to burn his hands on the hot stove several times to learn a lesson. I probably would have wound up with a van full of people in a ditch if I had gotten my way. Yet when God spoke to me to just wait upon Him, I stopped in my tracks and waited. That is when He worked out the situation.
4) David trusted God with the answer. This is the key to David’s success with his victory over the Amalekites. David did not pray for God to return all the wives and children. Rather he asked God what to do, and followed His advice to pursue the enemy. God gave David success in bringing back his family and all of the soldier’s wives, children, and possessions.
We all trust God for our salvation. Rather, it’s the direction of our lives with which we struggle to trust Him. God promises us in Psalm 32: 8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” We need to trust God for His counsel, the direction of our lives, and the unknown future, otherwise we will be just like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness “that did not wait for His counsel.”
We wait on the Lord because of who He is. It shows we have knowledge and trust in Him, and His wisdom, love, timing, and understanding of our situations.
G. Campbell Morgan wrote: “Waiting is far more difficult than working…waiting requires strength. It demands absolute surrender of the life to God, the confession that we are at the end of our own understanding of things, the confession that we really do not see our way and do not know the way. The waiting that says: ‘Until God shall speak we dare not move and will not move, we will not be seduced from our resolution to wait’ requires strength.” (The Westminster Pulpit, vol. ix).
We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” (Psalm 33:20-22)
God cares about us and what happens in each of our lives. Some of us may be wearing ourselves out chasing a relationship, a job, or even a ministry. You may be in an impossible situation like Jonah in the belly of the whale. In every situation, He wants us to come to Him first in prayer and in the Word of God. If your way is dark, you need to spend more time in His Word, which is a “light for your feet.” (Psalm 119:105) Just like David came to God for guidance, and waited upon for an answer, God wants us to come to Him with any problem, or situation, great or small. Charles Spurgeon had great insight when he wrote, “If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord's people have always been a waiting people”
We may not understand the direction He has for us, but it comes down to trusting Him to give us what He knows is best for us, and obeying what He says. We have to wait on His timing, not ours, we may be in a rush, but God is not. We may be living for the moment, but God is living in the eternal. So the key to success is to pray to God, wait on God, obey God, and trust God. Amen