“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame” (Isaiah 49:23)
One of the great pleasures of youth is hanging around. The long summer holidays were times of meeting up with others with nothing to do, school playgrounds were full of children who would mill about. Even if you were bored, there was a dread of the school bell which rang the faithful back to algebra.
As the years pile on, the opportunities for hanging about evaporate. The workplace fills the day, and increasingly the evenings too. I once phoned a solicitor who answered his phone, and politely explained that his answer would take a while as he was on a ski-slope! Even holidays are no escape from work. Life begins to speed up, food becomes “fast” and television is available “on demand”. Coffee is “instant” and delivery always seem to be “express”. As life speeds up, patience withers. Time becomes something that we “spend”, and we hanker after results which are instant.
Yet eternity has a way of putting things into perspective. The economy of God is founded on patience. And waiting. He acts in his own good time, and the wise person is one who waits for that good time. Patience is an engine of faith, and the accomplice of wisdom. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, once wrote: “quiet waiting before God would save from many a mistake and from many a sorrow”. This quiet waiting is an acknowledgement of trust in God, and an acknowledgement that not all the answers lie in our own hands. Or perhaps we could heed the words of one John Flavel who laboured in Dartmouth in the seventeenth century: “The delay of your mercies is really for your advantage.… The foolish child would pluck the apple while it is green, but when it is ripe, it drops of its own accord, and is more pleasant and wholesome.”
Waiting is deeply counter-cultural, but God has his own timing. We would do well to fall in step.