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How Well Do You Wait?

Updated: May 2, 2023

"We are too often double espresso followers of a decaf Sovereign."

- John Ortberg

John Ortberg, a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois wrote a book called, If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat (Zondervan, 2001) from which these quotes are taken:

"The ability to wait well is a test of maturity...
"The ability to control impulses, the refusal to live in patient waiting and trust, lies close to the heart of human fallenness.
"Paul says that while we are waiting for God to set everything right, we suffer. But suffering produces endurance; endurance, character; and character, hope. God is producing those qualities in us as we wait. Waiting is not just something we have to do while we get what we want. It is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.

"What does it mean to wait on the Lord? Let's start with a word about what biblical waiting is not. It is not a passive waiting around for something to happen that will allow you to escape your trouble. People sometimes say, "I'm just waiting on the Lord," as an excuse not to face up to reality, own up their responsibility, or take appropriate action...
"Waiting on the Lord is a confident, disciplined, expectant, active, and sometimes painful clinging to God.
"Waiting on the Lord is the continual, daily decision to say, "I will trust you, and I will obey you. Even though the circumstances of my life are not turning out the way I want them to, and may never turn out the way I would choose, I am betting everything on you. I have no plan B."
"So what does it take to wait well?"
Patient Trust
"Will I trust that God has good reasons for saying, "wait"? Will I remember that things look different to God because he views things from an eternal perspective?
Confident Humility
"Waiting on the Lord also requires confident humility. The prophet said, "The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever" (Isaiah 32:17, NIV).
"The result of righteousness, he discerned, will be two character qualities. The first is confidence. And this is not so much confidence in myself as confidence in the One who sustains me. It is the assurance that God is able. It entails a fearless orientation toward the future. The second quality is quietness, the opposite of arrogance and boasting, a humble recognition of my limits.
Waiting is, by nature, something only the humble can do with grace. When we wait for something, we recognize that we are not in control...
Prayer allows us to wait without worry. One recent night I could not sleep. I was troubled by all kinds of thoughts- "what if" kinds of thoughts. What if this doesn't change? What if something that I desperately want, I don't get? These were frantic voices. There was a semblance of truth to them- bad things can happen- but they did not lead to life. Not long after that, I was reading the account of Jesus and his friends being in a boat, with a storm lashing them about. The disciples were quite frantic because- remember?- Jesus was sleeping.
"And it struck me. There was one experience Jesus never had. He had experienced virtually every human emotion- sorrow, joy, pain. He had been tired, angry, and hopeful. But there was one thing he never experienced. He was never frantic. He never panicked. And in that moment I realized that God is never desperate.
"People sometimes talk about recognizing the voice of God when he speaks to them. There is much about this I do not understand. But I do know that the way you learn any person's voice is by experience- a certain tone and quality.
"God's voice is never frantic. When you hear desperate thoughts, you can know it is not God speaking (emphasis mine). You can wait in confident humility...
"If you are waiting on God these days- if you are obeying him, but you don't see the results you hoped for yet- you need to know that in the Bible there is a wonderful promise attached to this waiting.
"Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
"Sometimes in your life you will be in an era of spiritual soaring... God is answering prayer with extravagant generosity, using you in ways that leave you astonished, giving you power to rise above temptation and sin, making you surprisingly productive in your life's work, and flooding you with strength and wisdom beyond your ability...
"Sometimes we are not soaring, but we are able to run and not grow weary... your life isn't feeling effortless. You do not see a lot of miracles... But with persistence and determination you know you are running the race. You feel frustration, but you also feel God's pleasure in your obedience...
"Sometimes we will not be soaring, and we cannot run- because of doubt or pain or fatigue or failure. In those times all we can do is walk and not faint... All we can do is say, "God, I'll hang on. I don't seem too fruitful or productive, and I don't feel very triumphant. But I won't let go. I will obey you. I'll just keep walking."


So where are you right now? In whom is your trust- really? Are you obeying the Lord in what you already know to think and do or are you reclining on the couch eating bon-bons and grumbling? Trust God. Remember, faith is not seeing with our eyes, but with our heart. It is trusting in the goodness of God, whether His answer is yes, no, or wait.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God (Psalm 43:5), NIV)."

Trust God. And back off on the espresso.


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