I often find myself in the position parents all throughout time have been in, explaining a large word or concept to my 4 year old in ways she can grasp. The word we were discussing was the word “patience”. A word her daddy needs to work on every bit as much as she does. The phrase I came up with to help her understand was simply, “patience means it’s okay to wait”.
But we are reminded by God’s word, there’s much more to it than that. In Exodus 24, God calls Moses to the mountain to meet with him. Moses goes, and ends up having to wait 6 days before God reveals himself. As they’re meeting together on the mountain, the people of God find themselves waiting 40 days and 40 nights, and they grow impatient. It seems not only here, but throughout scripture, God’s people should be those who not only “know how” to wait well, but look forward to those times of waiting.
This seems to be appropriately against the normal pace of an instant gratification world. The culture of hurry, and filled schedules. It also seems like a very important/beneficial time to embrace the concept of “waiting”, as we continue the season of Lent this week. We wait, and deny ourselves certain things until the celebrations of Easter week. We know there will be much to celebrate, and what we will celebrate together gives us strength and reason to remain faithful today.
The people of God in Exodus 24 lost sight of that. In chapter 32, we read a disappointing scene where God’s people have lost patience in waiting for Moses. In their impatience, they’ve created an idol to give them spiritual gratification immediately. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say, many times we Jesus-loving church goers find ourselves with the same desire for instant spiritual gratification.
But what about the faithfulness of God that comes after a period of waiting? All of creation waited for Christ to come, and oh how things have changed! The people of God wandered in the wilderness, waiting to enter the promised land. Jesus spent his time in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan and spending time apart with God – preparing him for his earthly ministry. Noah and his family waited through the storms, and waited even beyond that for the water to recede, in order to experience the covenant living of God. Abraham and Sarah waited quite longer than they expected, to experience the beginning of God’s faithfulness to His word.
In each of these, the wait was much more than “okay”.
May we be people who are not only experienced in, but filled with anticipation by…waiting on the Lord.