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Waiting is a Waste of Time, or is it?by Duane Mabee on March 8, 2023
Waiting is a pain. Most of us don’t do it well. As Bill Crowder writes in The Path of His Passion, “waiting seems pointless… it is easy to replace simple waiting with drive or ambition or initiative – all of which are exceedingly appropriate in the right time and place.” We don’t like to wait primarily because it wastes our time, delays our plans, and tanks our productivity. But is waiting always pointless?
Isaiah 40:31 promises us renewed strength and freedom from exhaustion, but those promises are for “those who wait on the Lord”. We like the promises. We want their benefits, but we want to skip that word “wait”.
In Acts 1:4, Jesus “ordered [the disciples] not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father,” (ESV). It had already been 40 days since the resurrection, and Jesus knew the Holy Spirit would not come for another 10 days. So why did He make them wait? Why didn’t He tell the Spirit to come sooner? If they had to wait, why didn’t Jesus tell them when the Spirit would come?
Seasons of waiting are not pointless delays. Waiting rooms are part of the training program God designed for you. They are times of preparation and purpose. They often build anticipation and shape our aspirations. They develop the character of Christ in us.
Waiting tests our willingness to be obedient and to persevere. We cannot develop or display these characteristics without enduring seasons of waiting. To be effective, these seasons also need to be of unknown duration.
Had Jesus told the disciples when the Holy Spirit would come, they would have done what we would do – schedule a meeting for day 10 and go about doing what they wanted to for the other 9. But think of what they would have missed in those 9 days. They would have missed 9 days of intimacy with each other and with God. They would have missed deep times of prayer together and the building anticipation of what the Holy Spirit would do when He came.
Crowder writes, “We must learn to wait on the Lord because we sometimes need the training and discipline that such waiting can teach. Mostly, though, we need to learn to wait upon the Lord so that we can learn to rest in His always-perfect timing. One of the most useful spiritual lessons we can learn is the fact that God is always exactly on time – never early, never late.”
When we refuse to wait, we stunt our spiritual growth and short-circuit our ability to trust God fully. Waiting isn’t pointless. It’s as necessary part of developing spiritual maturity. We need to learn to wait well.