God in my Waiting (Exodus 2).
I wonder if you’re at all like me? Do you like things to happen right away? Do you absolutely hate waiting? Does your life, like mine, dispel the myth that we British like to queue? Yes, I’m a very impatient person. Although I know a lot of people who are decidedly more patient than me (thank goodness), impatience is a common malady. It’s a state of mind and spirit that’s continually and persistently egged on by our culture. Hyper-fast internet and quicker-than-ever Amazon delivery are all very well and good, but they’re part and parcel of a me-first, now-now-now society. No need to save, you can buy now on credit, we’re told. Why cook, you can have this ready meal instead. You no longer wait for the news, the news comes to you, 24-7 and tailored to your interests via Twitter and other feeds.
We’re all in such a hurry, and instant gratification is the name of the game. Yet we forget the value of waiting. We forget that for some things there are no shortcuts. You can’t be an expert right away, you can’t fast-forward to experience, and you can’t hurry love. Some things are worth waiting for. Some things we have to wait for.
Fortunately, God is never in a hurry. He knows the best time for everything, and hasn’t bought into the lie that that the time is always now. You see, God often makes us wait. The time is not yet right. We’re not ready yet. There are issues of pride and sin to be dealt with, maturity to be developed, self-reliance to be swapped for complete trust in God. We often think we’re ready when we’re not, forgetting that we don’t know everything or see the whole picture that God does. This is especially true in the spiritual realm, when we’re desperate to start that ministry or launch that initiative or take on that leadership role. Yet however much we think we’re ready for something, we can’t persuade God to start before He’s ready. That is wonderful. And that is infuriating.
I think Moses knew just what I meant. Despite living thousands of years ago, I think he knew better than most of us today what it means to wait on God. Displaying a very modern, and at the same time very ancient, human trait in Exodus 2, he takes matters into his own hands and tries to make something happen before the time is right. Here is a privileged prince stepping out of the palace and walking among his own people for the first time. You can’t take the Israelite out of this Egyptian fosterling, and his heart burns when he sees the brutal injustice with his own eyes. He’s used to being in authority so he thinks he’s a leader in every situation. Perhaps he even feels deep down the call from God to leadership, even before he’s heard it from God, and just wants to get cracking. He doesn’t know the solution or have any of the answers, he just wants to dive right in and start sorting it out. When I read this passage I can really empathise, knowing myself how hard it is to hold back when you see wrongs that you want to right. Yet in another part of my somewhat weird brain, Captain Jack Sparrow with a knowing smile is saying, ‘Wait for the opportune moment.’
Moses’ seizing of the initiative backfired on him. He commits murder. His own people dispute his authority and reject him. Far from improving things, he exacerbates the plight of his countrymen and women and is forced into exile, literally fleeing for his life. Our own efforts often don’t produce the results we want. We all have good intentions, we all just wanted to help, but without God’s blessing we can do more harm than good. If it’s not in God’s timing, if it lacks God’s anointing, it will go awry.
Moses found himself in the desert. And he had to wait a long time before he could return. He was 40 when his impatience got the better of him; 80 when his patience was rewarded. Even Jesus, the Son of God, had to wait for 30 years before doing anything significant. Moses’ 40 years in the desert between chapters 2 & 3 parallel Jesus’ 40 days in the desert (Matthew 4:1-2). Worthwhile things in the Bible take their time, and great preparation is taken. And deserts are often involved. Literally in the case of Jesus and Moses; figuratively for the rest of us. Literal or figurative, deserts are great places of preparation for the great things God wants us to do. Mike Pilavachi has written a whole book (Wasteland: Encountering God in the Desert) on this, and it’s brilliant reading. Make that essential reading, if you’ve ever struggled with impatience in the Kingdom of God.
I don’t want to steal too many of Mike’s ideas, but basically the desert is where we learn to rely on God, not on ourselves. It’s where we learn to wait for Him, to trust Him, and to obey Him. I find all three of those things incredibly difficult, so I feel like I’ve been training in the desert for years now. It took the Israelites 40 years to learn those things, and Moses too, apparently. But the rewards make it worthwhile. The children of Israel came into the Promised Land. A whole Bible of waiting led to salvation for ‘whoever believes’ (John 3:16). 80 years of preparation and deferral made Moses the man he was: the man who rescued his nation, who defied Pharaoh, who parted the Red Sea, wrote the Law (that’s Genesis to Deuteronomy) and who even spoke to God face to face. Wow. His waiting paid off. Did he miss his chance, lose his opportunity? Not a bit of it.
You will never miss out waiting for God. You’ll never suffer for trusting in His timing. Our own plans and schedules generally lead to second or third best or worse; but in God we have the best that we can have. Full reward in the ripeness of time. It’s only the world that says if you haven’t become a superstar by age 25 you’ve failed. What does the world know of waiting?
Waiting is hard. Waiting is frustrating. Waiting is inevitable. The Psalms repeatedly encourage us to wait, to wait for the Lord. “Wait for the Lord,” says Psalm 27:14; “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him,” says Psalm 37:7; “We wait in hope for the Lord,” declares Psalm 33:20. There’s a reason. He will answer (Psalm 38:15). He is our “help and shield” (Psalm 33:20). He knows what we need before we speak (Psalm 139:4). He knows best. He has the best in store for you.
When you wait you’re in good company – the whole Bible – and indeed of the two thousand years and counting since – is a story of waiting. When you’re waiting you’re not wasting time or being deprived, you’re growing closer to God, being built up in His likeness. He there’s with you. If you’re struggling with waiting, maybe these lyrics from Tim Hughes’ song ‘Everything‘ will help you like they’ve helped me:
“God in my watching, God in my waiting.”
If you’re waiting, don’t waste this time. Don’t settle for second best. Exodus shows what waiting can achieve. So does Revelation. So
Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
To take away:
What is God making you wait for? How can you make the most of this time of waiting, instead of wishing it away?