Is impatience really a deadly sin?
Waiting is not easy for me. Choosing the right line at Walmart the bank, or the DMV is - for me - an unsolved mystery, which is rarely solved correctly. Now, the local McDonalds has opened a second drive-thru line. Traffic delays are the worst. I Saw a bumper sticker the other day that read,
"The Road To Happiness Is Almost Always Under Construction."
We live in a culture of push buttons, fast foods, and instant gratification. When something interrupts that smooth, rapid flow we get testy. We just hate to wait.
We are currently in the season of Advent. “Adventus” is the Latin translation of the Greek word “Parousia,” which commonly refers to the Second Coming of Christ.
For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives:
· In the flesh in Bethlehem;
· In our hearts daily, and
· In glory at the end of time.”
This season offers us the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming. Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of the Christ. We are awaiting the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, as well as His promised return at the end of the age.
Some four hundred years before Jesus’ birth, the prophet Jerimiah prophesied.
Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NIV) "'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 "'In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.'
The Jews waited over four hundred years and after over 2000 years, Christians are still waiting. The early church thought He would return in a few days. The Jews have been waiting for 3000 years.
It is in these times of waiting that our relationship with God faces its greatest challenge. Our faith in His promises begins to suffer.
If anyone knew about waiting for God it was Abraham. He obeyed God and waited for decades and never saw all of God’s promises fulfilled. The Apostle Paul was called by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles, but waited for over ten years before the Lord’s promise would be fulfilled.
The things that God does in us are not so much planned and organized as they are born. Birthing is a process. There is the conception stage, a gestation period, then the birth. There seems to be a correlation between the length of the gestation period and the size of the baby. The gestation period for a field mouse is seven days and the baby is about the size of your pinky fingernail. The gestation period for the elephant is twenty-two months.
Every Hero of the Bible was forced to wait. Moses spent forty years in Pharaoh’s palace learning about leadership, and another forty years learning desert survival. Only then was he able to free God’s people from slavery in Egypt.
What do we do while waiting?
How do we wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled? How do we wait for His imminent return? We often think that waiting is a passive activity, kicking back with our feet up, watching a ball game on the TV, and waiting.
Early Adventists predicted dates, got all their finances in order, and then went to sit on a mountaintop to wait.
- Abraham didn’t wait in Haran. He began the journey. While waiting he was moving down the road. While waiting for God to tell him where to stop, Abraham kept going.
- Paul spent the ten years in Tarsus, but was not cooling it by the pool. He was preparing himself. He spent days at a time in prayer and scripture study. When Jesus was ready for him, he was ready for the task.
Waiting for God is not standing still, it is:
- Preparation. Prepare yourselves.
Get the things that you will need on the journey.
- Taking action - Start moving
Once prepared, we start the journey. Like ships sailing through the ocean, we can be turned by a tiny rudder in the rear. That little rudder is like that still small voice of God. But if we are not moving, the rudder can turn wherever it wants and we do not change course. We have to be moving.
- Avoiding the “Self Help Syndrome.” Although Abraham was a man of faith, he had his moment of failure. He took matters into his own hands. After waiting many years for God to answer His promise to be a father of many nations, he acted at Sarais urging to help God fulfill His promise. Abraham then had a son by one of his maidservants. A common practice in that culture. It was not God's plan and it has continued to cause problems till today.
It is tempting for us to run ahead of God. God does not need our help in fulfilling His promises. Creating Ishmaels takes us on painful detours and cannot be erased.
- Expecting God to guide you.Colombian Indians, deep in the Amazon jungle, go to church at night carrying small tin cans with a candle inside. They provide very little light. I want a huge spotlight. When I think about all of the poisonous snakes, the wild animals, and creepy crawly things, I want a huge spotlight.
When I talk like that, its as if I am saying, "I am perfectly capable of handling every situation as long as I know what’s going on."
God gives us the next right step, we want to know what's at the end of the road. God's direction often comes almost like a seed which is unfolded gradually.
- Anticipating “Divine Chaos.” There will be difficulties
- Depending upon God.
We have to be hungry, humble, and teachable. The mark of spiritual maturity is a childlike spirit. We often do not look at the Apostle Paul as needy and childlike, yet he wrote;
1 Cor. 2:3-4 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power,
In this Advent season let us all learn to wait in the same way that Abraham, Moses, and Paul waited for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
As we wait we must:
· Prepare ourselves
· Take the step we know to take
· Stop trying to make it happen
· Expect guidance from God
· Expect Chaos
· Depend upon the Lord