The Weight of Waiting
- Thursday, March 23, 2017
- By Mike Gordon
The Weight of Waiting
Everybody has a wait story; a time when you were in line at Walmart and the person in front of you can’t find their wallet or the customer who insists on paying for their $250 item in unwrapped quarters. Maybe it is the infamous price check item or the slow person who doesn’t get their wallet out until the cashier gives them the total price. My personal favourites are waiting in line at the USA border crossing or waiting a half hour on the telephone line to talk to a customer service agent and eventually receive a greeting from a representative who can barely speak English. Can you relate? I am not one to complain, but I find myself many times “in line” for one reason or another. I have a term I often call it … “rushtration”. It is the feeling of frustration, anger or depression that comes when things don’t happen in my time. I kid about these trivial surface annoyances but when the cards are down, and we refer to some of the more crucial episodes of life, waiting can be very heavy and burdensome. They can even be a death blow to our faith.
As a minister, I have seen many people lose faith on the waiting issue. Either that, or their faith becomes gravely wounded. Many have left faith but have not necessarily left church, they just sit in a pew embittered and with a faith that is “on strike”. They remain resentful; boycotting God but, still wishing to go to heaven, continue attend figuring that God hasn’t figured out their protest or their disapproval. The reason I know this so well is because I have gone through those seasons and thankfully I have come through them. Some never do. The troubling thing about these “weight of waiting” times is that they are equivalent to one carrying a heavy boulder everywhere they go. These times ache in that we have no control over them in terms of how long they will linger or when they will end. We are simply at the mercy of the time keeper. If you haven’t figured it out by now, some of the biggest challenges you will face are not the problem itself but the length of time that it lasts. God seems to be building endurance and understanding in us; however, these are often tough pills to swallow to a person who is weak, desperate, and looking for an answer. Endurance, stamina, and fortitude traits are obviously the hardest spiritual muscles to develop. If you were to look at some of my spiritual journal inclusions you will find it laced with conversations about the weight or burden that comes when God doesn’t show up …on time … on my time ... or even at all. These raw entries sound something like this: “Lord I am kind of wondering when this thing is going to be over. I think I have been faithful in serving you and for some reason I always feel like I am standing at the end of the line! I have held up to my end of the bargain and for some reason it appears that you have not. My reward for serving you is isolation, loneliness, and being ignored! Desperation has led to depression and this delay will eventually lead to my death unless you show up! God why does everything always have to be last minute!” Of course, saner thinking eventually takes over and I realise that I must get these thoughts (that God knows reside in us anyways) out so that God can put some perspective in my soul and lead me out of the caves that these seasons bring me to.
It is funny as I think on this issue, there are still things I am tapping my toes towards God at which He spoke to my heart about 30 years ago. Things that lurk in the background and I still wait patiently for God to answer. And the fact that the bible tells us in Hebrews 11:13 that God promised some faith filled people stuff that they never saw accomplished in their lifetime, just adds to the anxiety. Yet I still believe God to work and fulfill these yearnings even 3 decades later. They include dreams to be fulfilled, family to come to faith, and miracles to occur. Whatever that burden you may be carrying, my heart goes out to you. I suppose I can give you some advise as to how important honest prayer and journalling help and the value of utilizing worship to help in times like these, but the truth is there are some challenges I will never be able to explain or guide you through. You simply must experience it yourself. All I can say is that I have come to realise that amoung the greatest things that pleases God in our faith walk is when we demonstrate endurance. When we decide to go on when God doesn’t make sense and it appears that God isn’t who He says He is. That we endure when it seems God may even be cursing me or that He is against me and yet an inner resolve says despite all of this I will serve Jesus anyway for as long as it takes and even if it gets worse and even if I don’t get an answer or an explanation. I am just going to keep serving Jesus and nothing will change that. Make no mistake about it, God will call you to endure even when we don’t see, hear, sense, experience, or feel Him. When an answer is not nigh and even when it appears, God has double crossed us and particularly when it seems things should have been over a long time ago. We still cling to Jesus when we have cried out to God that our fingers are sore from hanging on and we don’t think we can hang on much longer. It is this is the type of non-logical endurance that gratifies, delights, and thrills the heart of our Heavenly Father. It is the mark that you are truly serving the Saviour in the light that you get nothing in return. And the thought that I am pleasing God always seems to help me get past another day, week, month, whatever.
I married an Italian girl who has made my life complete. The wonderful thing about Italians is that there are common elements in each Italian family that fellow Italians can relate to. It is these parts of their culture and personality that makes them unique and full of life. One such tendency I find unique is that in every Italian clan there exists a person who will drink a little too much wine at the family weddings and insist on heading up to the front microphone and give some guiding words for the bride and groom. At times, this liquor laced wisdom can be harmless, many times it is lengthy and a bit hard to understand, and almost always it is unpredictable and more than a little hilarious. For those family members reading this blog you know exactly who I am talking about. On one such occasion at my wife’s cousin’s wedding, a familiar face somehow eluded the MC to get to the front mic to deliver some slurred sage advise. His counsel was this, “All I want to say is this; It takes time to wait” No kidding uncle _ _ _ _ _! It takes time to wait!? Even though the statement was made at a wedding decades ago I can still remember laughing with family members at the obviousness of the statement. However, through a few years of walking with seniors, youth, married families, and personally through some pretty dark days, I have come to find that this statement bears a lot of painful truth. It truly does take time to wait. Time can be agonising and waiting can be unbearable whether you are walking through a painful divorce, or working through a private crisis or waiting for God to resolve a situation, the days, months, and even decades can be some of the toughest you can ever experience.
So, what is your wait story, and I am not talking about the trivial inconvenience of a grocery store line up. I am talking about the times when God seems to take forever to get you through the process and it still seems like nothing is happening and no progress is being made. Maybe you are enduring one of these times now. In these instances, I am reminded of Jesus words in Matthew 11:29 “Come unto me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” … The question you must honestly ask yourself is, do you believe this is true enough to practice? Are you convinced that God is ultimately concerned for what is best for your eternal soul and future? Are you aware that God is not desiring to do something good in you, He is desiring to do something great in you? For those who answer “yes” to these questions, perhaps it will take a few pounds off the load you carry. For this is the reason we go on serving Jesus in the good, in the bad, AND even in the ugly.