Saturday, November 20, 2010

Waiting for "The Great Not Yet"

Wait. It is a word that God has brought to me so many times lately.  I strongly dislike waiting.  It all started a few nights ago when I was reading a book that my friend gave me by John Claypool, God, The Ingenious Alchemist.  He was writing about the Joseph in the Old Testament.  If there was anyone who knew about the "Waiting Place," it was Joseph.  He was falsely accused of rape, thrown into prison, and forgotten.  Here he sat, in the "Waiting Place."  However, the one thing that we read again and again about Joseph is that God was with him.

The "Waiting Place" is so often looked at with great disdain.  It is not a fun place to be.  I like having goals.  If I have a goal, I have direction.  I know where I am going, and I know what I need to do to get there.  But in the "Waiting Place" there is no goal.  You are just waiting.  In the Dr. Seuss book, Oh the Places You Will Go, he writes about what he calls the most useless place, "The Waiting Place."

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

Why are we so discontented with waiting?  When referring to waiting, it seems to always be talked about with negative connotations.  What do we always do when we have to wait in long lines?  We complain.  Why do we do that?  I have thought about this, and I think that I have possibly arrived at the answer.  We humans tend to think that time spent waiting is wasted time.  Even Dr. Seuss agrees:

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. 
You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. 
With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! 
Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Well, I love Dr. Seuss books, but I have to say that I respectfully disagree with him on this one.  The waiting place is not a useless place.  Here is where it can become difficult to muddle through.  It certainly CAN be a useless place, but I will save those thoughts for another time.  What I am talking about now is when we are in "The Waiting Place" at the hands of a Sovereign God.  We trust Him with our future, and He says, "Wait."  In such a case the waiting time becomes priceless.  It is a time of refining us and making us into something more whole and more beautiful than we could ever be, had we rushed right through the circumstances or, worse yet, had we thrown our hands up in despair and given up.

When Joseph was in prison, he could have sat around day and night, withering away as he lost his way while in "The Waiting Place."  But that was not Joseph.   In the words of John Claypool, "The most practical difference between asking, 'What can I do now?' instead of protesting, 'Why me?' is enormous indeed.  Joseph proceeds to do the very best thing he could do in that terribly difficult situation:  he became a servant to the other prisoners around him."

We live in a world of instant gratification, and none of us enjoys waiting.  I know I don't.  But what I have to understand is that this waiting time for me is a time for God to mold me and shape me into the person that He wants me to be.  God has been putting this in front of me constantly over the last few days.   I really enjoy reading the Psalms.  In one night I read two different passages that dealt with waiting:

Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act. - Psalm 37:7
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. - Psalm 40:1

This happened the very same night when I was reading John Claypool's book.  I had been greatly intrigued by one of his quotes.

We are called to stay open in hope in relation to The Great Not Yet. We must resist the temptation to rush too quickly to judgment regarding the nature of any event. The wiser approach is what the Bible calls "waiting upon the Lord." If we are still breathing, it is too early to tell about the ultimate impact of any event in our lives.

Every time I read, that I get excited.  God is preparing me for "The Great Not Yet."  I want to rush into things; that is just my personality.  However, slowly and painfully, I am learning from God the value in "waiting on Him."  What He has for me is great and amazing, but it is just not time yet.  He is still working on me and healing my wounds and getting me ready, because what He has in store for me is going to be amazing.

When we are in "The Waiting Place"  because God has us there to prepare us for our future, it is a good thing.  He is getting us ready for "The Great Not Yet."  That is exactly what he was doing with Joseph. He was preparing him for great things later in his life.

So when I become frustrated and weary with waiting, I am not going to say, "Why me?"  I will say, "What can I do now?"  For now, I am going to let God do His work.  I am going to enjoy my girls and the other wonderful people in my life, and I am going to joyfully anticipate "The Great Not Yet!"

Isaiah 40:27-31
Don’t you know?
      Haven’t you heard?
   The eternal God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth,
      doesn’t grow tired or become weary.
         His understanding is beyond reach.
He gives strength to those who grow tired
      and increases the strength of those who are weak.
Even young people grow tired and become weary,
      and young men will stumble and fall.
Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the Lord
      will be renewed.
         They will soar on wings like eagles.
            They will run and won’t become weary.
            They will walk and won’t grow tired.

*To read more about the life of Joseph, see Genesis:  Chapters 37, 39-50

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