Ever get tired of waiting? Waiting to see a hit movie only to have it land in Redbox before you can get to a theater. Waiting like a taxi at an office, a mall, a carpool line? Waiting for someone to notice all the little sacrifices and maybe say ‘thank you’ just once?
Welcome to my world… where the waits are endless.
Frankly, I get irritated with waiting. When you have lived a few decades, you start to notice how much time is passing while you wait. I identify with Moses’ frustration after 40 years of wandering around the desert with people who continually murmured against him and were ready to stone him whenever something went wrong.
When these troublesome folk got thirsty, they complained to Moses. God told Moses what to do: speak to the rock and water would flow. But Moses was fed up. He gave the “rebels” a piece of his mind, then struck the rock not once, but twice. That display of temper cost him dearly. Moses would see the promised land but he would not enter it.
The people were ungrateful whiners, but God still expected Moses to follow His clear instructions for satisfying their thirst. Moses’ momentary self-indulgence, despite years of obedience, prevented him from enjoying the very place he long sought to reach.
My take-away? I’m convinced that other people really aren’t my problem. It’s my response to them that makes all the difference to God. I’m pretty sure he even engineers the irritating circumstances that prompt all my waiting, and He doesn’t do it to frustrate me (even though it is frustrating).
Consider the former slaves Moses was leading. They were not ready to take on formidable armies. They saw themselves as grasshoppers up against giants. Forty years in the desert got their minds right. Even after they entered the land, God did not allow them to conquer their enemies at once, but “little by little.” The delay gave them time to increase in number so they could populate the land and prevent its being overrun by wild animals.
This makes sense in hindsight, but these people had to take it on faith that God still was working all this for their good. It can be hard to keep faith when you are continually disappointed. I struggle with being self-centered, focused squarely on one thing: how something affects me negatively. It is a continual discipline to stay focused on the good God seeks to accomplish and to work through the irritants without becoming bitter.
In my more lucid moments, I recognize that all this waiting is not pointless. Daily life is part of the process of sanctification. God is making us holy, not comfortable. We Christians are headed somewhere just like those Israelites who gave Moses such a headache. When we get there, we’ll be a prepared people for a prepared place.
All the waiting is something like hanging out in the green room of a theater company. We’re not needed on Heaven’s stage just yet, but we’re being prepared to go on at a moment’s notice.