May 19 2013

Waiting on God

robin 1Today is Pentecost Sunday.  On this day Christians all around the world pause to remember how the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the early disciples in Jerusalem shortly after Jesus had left the earth.  It is a very exciting story recorded in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.  In the first chapter of that same book the stage is set for that special day when Jesus told his followers “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (vs. 4-5)  The part of this I want to emphasize today is the disciples’ call to wait. 

For whatever reason, Jesus was not ready to bestow the Holy Spirit upon them prior to his ascension.  For that they would have to wait a few days.  It is amazing how often the Scriptures talk about waiting on God.  It is quite clear that God does not operate on the same time table we do.  We like things to happen fast but God seldom gets in a hurry.  And because God does not get in a hurry we have to wait.  Are you a good waiter?  I’m not.  I find waiting for anything I really want difficult.  I’m more of a “I want what I want and I want it now” kind of guy.  Such an attitude usually leads to a great deal of frustration.

robin 3I thought about that yesterday as I was photographing the baby robin you see in the pictures here.  Ironically, I was reading a book about John James Audubon when I saw the bird through the window sitting on a wicker chair on the porch.  The bird eventually flew into a nearby tree and I got to capture some images of it sitting there.  Not long later I noticed that the baby robin had company.  What I will assume was its mother began bringing it worms and berries to eat.  I decided I’d try to capture the feeding with my camera too.  Doing so became an exercise in patience and waiting.  I kept wanting to rush the adult robin, wishing it would hurry up and come back.  I found myself getting frustrated when it did not return as fast as I wanted it to.

The whole time I was fretting I was watching the baby bird through my telephoto lens.  I noticed that when the adult robin left the little one sometimes seemed to wait patiently for her return and at other times appeared to get agitated when she did not come back right away.   I also noticed that whether the bird waited patiently or got agitated the mother bird kept coming back with more food.  Watching all this take place in front of me got me to thinking that when we do have to wait on God for something there are two ways we may do so.  We can patiently wait on God to act, believing that His timing is best, or we can get all worked up and frustrated. 

robin 2In the end God, like the mother robin, will provide for us what we need but how we wait in the meantime is up to us.  If we know God is going to provide for us then we might as well learn to be patient and not stress out.  It does no good to get all flustered.  In fact, that only makes matters worse.  If we are smart we will simply sit back and wait, putting our trust in both God and God’s timing.

I write all of this today probably more for my own sake than yours.   There are some things going on in my life right now where I’m really struggling to be patient with God’s timing.  My natural tendency is to get anxious and upset.  While watching the baby robin yesterday I sensed God telling me “You might as well chill out.  Getting upset isn’t going to change anything.  Just be patient and I’ll come through for you when the time is right.”  That’s not what I wanted to hear but was certainly what I needed to hear.  It wouldn’t surprise me if there are others who need to hear that same message.  If so, I hope this post proves helpful.


Jun 1 2011

The God Who Doesn’t Get In A Hurry

Last Friday while photographing in the Red River Gorge National Geological Area I had a chance to visit two of the area’s most popular arches—Princess Arch and Rock Bridge.  The Red River Gorge has numerous arches, more than any other location east of the Mississippi River.  It is a wonderful place to ponder the forces which can impact a landscape such as this.  Over thousands of years wind, rain, and in some cases the flow of creeks cause the erosion that forms the magnificent arches.  The arches we see today are still being shaped by these elements.  Over time these arches will likely cease to exist; they will succumb to the forces of nature while yet other arches form.

It is difficult for me to comprehend the length of time it takes nature to form geologic features like arches, hoodoos, natural bridges and buttes.  I just know that it takes a very long time.  We may be used to seeing manmade structures completed in short periods of time but nature tends to work on a much slower scale.  What is true of nature, I have discovered, is also true of God.  Time and time again I have been reminded that God typically works in what we would call “slow motion.”  I pray prayers asking for things that I cannot help but believe are God’s will and expect Him to respond immediately.  At times He does, but more often than not He doesn’t.   I, like most people, find this frustrating but I should not find it surprising.

I have been a serious student of Scripture for many years now.  I know from my studies of the Bible that God has a much different time table than we do.  There are countless examples in the biblical accounts where God seems incredibly slow to act.  For example, the Hebrews held captive in Egypt cry out to God for help but it is quite some time before He sends Moses to be their deliverer.  And apparently people long before me struggled with God’s slowness.  The Psalmist repeatedly asks God “how long” He is going to wait before He does one thing or another.  Job, too, wondered why God was so slow in getting around to answering his questions.

 In 2 Peter 3:8 we read, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”  Peter’s words reveal that the way we experience time contrasts greatly with the way God experiences time.  In today’s world, filled with so many time saving devices, we are used to immediate or quick results in many facets of our life.  That makes it even harder for us to deal with God’s propensity to take His time.  Our attitude tends to be “I want what I want and I want it now.”  The testimony of Scripture seems to indicate that God’s attitude is “I know what you need and I’ll provide for it when the time is right.”

The same Psalmist who frequently asked God “how long” He was going to take to act came to realize that when dealing with the Lord God Almighty we must learn to be patient.  At the conclusion of Psalm 27 he wrote: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  That’s good advice for all of us for whether He is creating beautiful arches or creating beautiful lives God does not get in a hurry. 


 (Top image: Princess Arch.  Bottom image: Rock Bridge)