In The Waiting
I’m a pretty impatient guy. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that I hate waiting. When I want something, I want it immediately, not an hour or even a minute later. Walmart drives me bananas, because more often than not, I’m forced to wait in an agonizingly long line. Then, if the people in front of me have two carts full of stuff (especially if it’s an item limited check-out), I want to pull my hair out by the handful! I know, this doesn’t sound too spiritual, does it? Now admit it, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about, eh?
As much as we humankind hate waiting, it sure seems like we have to do a lot of it. God Himself takes us through periods of waiting. Why? Because waiting does something to us- it changes us. God uses waiting periods to shape us, and to mold us. He uses those times to make us more like Himself.
There are many stories in the Bible of men and women of God had to endure times of waiting. In my trip through the Bible in a year, I recently read one such story. It was in the book of Ruth. The story goes like this: a man from Bethlehem, Elimelech, took his wife Naomi and their 2 sons into the land of Moab, because a famine had hit Israel. While living in Moab for 10 years, the boys married women from that land. Soon, however, Elimelech died. To add insult to injury for a grieving wife, Naomi lost both sons, too. In that time, this was doubly disastrous for a woman. It was a man-run society. Women didn’t have rights, they couldn’t even own property. They needed either a husband or a son to care for them. When she found herself without son or husband, it really was like a death sentence for her. She had no way to get herself back on her feet.
In the middle of all this, Naomi heard that the Lord had given bread to the homeland. She took her sons’ widows, Ruth and Orpah, and headed for home. Along the way, Naomi tried to get her young daughters-in-law to stay in their countries, find a new man and settle down. Orpah took her advice, but Ruth made a decision that day. She would not leave her mother-in-law. “Where you go, I will go. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God!” (See Ruth Ch. 1)
Ruth’s mind was made up. She was staying with Naomi no matter what. They made it to Bethlehem, and tried to get on their feet. The townspeople were thrilled that Naomi had returned, but Naomi had been depleted of all joy. “The Lord has dealt bitterly with me.” However, once they were home, they found out that God was working for them. There was a kinsmen-redeemer, a relative of Naomi’s late husband, who would marry Ruth and take care of them. He would father a child to be raised up in Ruth’s late husband’s name. But, it didn’t happen overnight. These two ladies had to endure a time of waiting.
Just how long they waited is unknown. It happened during the barley harvest. Perhaps a month, who knows? And during this time, even though it was certainly uncomfortable, God took care of them. Ruth worked gleaning the field Boaz, the relative of her dead father-in-law. He gave them food and protected Ruth in the field. In time, she revealed who she was, and that Boaz was the one to redeem her. He did just that, and after the waiting was over, Ruth walked down the aisle, soon had a son, and Naomi was set. But it came after a time of waiting.
Are you in a time of waiting? As one who has been through several, let me advise you not to despise it or squander it. Use this time to your advantage, for God is using it for your advantage, too. It’s in the waiting periods that God molds us and transforms us. He makes us into the people He has called us to be. The acid test of time really brings out what lies just under the surface. That’s good, because the stuff that exits in these times need to come out. It’s a time of refining. When gold or silver is refined, it’s heated till it melts. Impurities then rise to the surface, and the refiner skims it off. He knows when it’s done. It’s done when he sees his reflection in the molten liquid. Friends, God uses these times of waiting to bring the impurities out, so He can see Himself in us.
So, don’t be like I am in the Walmart check-out. Don’t get impatient with God. Let Him do what He needs to, and when He’s done, you’ll be prepared for His plans.