“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Ps 40:1, NIV).
The tests of our willingness to wait patiently for the Lord comes almost daily for most of us, I suppose. Probably I am among the Lord’s most impatient servants, so the lesson has to be reviewed again and again. A tough test came when my daughter’s family (of ten) was searching for a house. Southern California is not a place where one would wish to conduct that search. It’s a long story, but at last, all other possibilities having been exhausted, a house was found, an offer made. That night word came that two other offers, of unknown amounts, had also been made. Dark pictures filled my mind: the others would surely get the house, the Shepards would be reduced to renting, and we’d been told that rentals start at about $2000 per month (imagine an owner willing to rent to a family with eight children!).
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Ps 27:14, NIV).
I lay awake in the wee hours (“when all life’s molehills become mountains” as Amy Carmichael said), repeating Scripture about God’s faithfulness, trusting, casting all cares, waiting. I had to keep offering up my worries and my impatience. At four I was up reading the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham called the place where he had offered up Isaac The Lord Will Provide. I took that as the Lord’s word to me that morning. Before nine o’clock Walt called to say “Offer accepted. Other offers, both higher, turned down.” No explanation. It was the Lord’s doing.
Waiting requires patience – a willingness calmly to accept:
what we have or have not,
where we are or where we wish we were,
whomever we live or work with.
To want what we don’t have is impatience, for one thing, and it is to mistrust God. Is He not in complete control of all circumstances, events, and conditions? If some are beyond His control, He is not God.
A spirit of resistance cannot wait on God. I believe it is this spirit which is the reason for some of our greatest sufferings. Opposing the workings of the Lord in and through our “problems” only exacerbates them. It is here and now that we must win our victories or suffer defeats. Spiritual victories are won in the quiet acceptance of ordinary events, which are God’s “bright servants,” standing all around us.
Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (Jn 14:27, NEB). What sort of peace has He to give us? A peace which was constant in the midst of ceaseless work (with few visible results), frequent interruptions, impatient demands, few physical comforts; a peace which was not destroyed by the arguments, the faithlessness, and hatred of the people. Jesus had perfect confidence in His Father, whose will He had come to accomplish. Nothing touched Him without His Father’s permission. Nothing touches me without my Father’s permission. Can I not then wait patiently?
Excerpt originally appeared in the July/August 1994 Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.