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September 21, 2017

Waiting for God was the hardest thing He ever asked us to do in the wilderness. When hunger gnawed at our stomachs or freezing cold penetrated every part of our bodies the moments ticked by with excruciating slowness. When we spent hours upon hours just lying on the ground under the tarp waiting for something to happen; anything, we thought we might go mad. God did not release us then. No, He was content to let us just wait. Our ‘self’ nature hated every moment and screamed in agony at God and still He persisted with leaving us in the trial. We learned that waiting on God was the hardest thing He was asking of us.

Depending on how you nurtured your ‘self’ nature you might think that giving up our nice house, car, wealth and goods was the most difficult thing we experienced. Or you might think that our leaving family was beyond impossible. You might even think that leaving religion, government support or a job might be the thing that we struggled with the most. None of these are true. Although they were very painful and difficult each in their own way, I have to say that just plain waiting was and is the hardest lesson we had to endure.

So why would just waiting be so difficult to endure? We could wax eloquent about our microwave society and how we are so used to things happening instantly that makes waiting so painful. We could say that we are just impatient people. I believe, however, that the issue of waiting goes far deeper than just our current generation. God has been calling on mankind to wait on Him since the time of Abraham. We often forget that Abraham waited 25 years for God’s promise came to pass. Joseph had to wait 13 years or so before he started on the destiny God had for him. Moses had to wait 80 years before he was ready to lead God’s people. There are far too many others who also waited for God to mention here. Let us just say that God sees waiting on Him as one of the key lessons we need to learn in our journey of faith.

Why is waiting so important then? We each have an anti-spirit (‘self’) and spirit within us that are at war with each other. One of the two must die. ‘Self’ starts at an early age grasping and getting its own way, trying to kill spirit. As ‘self’ grows it becomes more determined to get what it wants. It is impatient and selfish. It even promotes this as being a good thing. You may have heard the quote by Robert Schuller, “If it’s got to be, it’s up to me,” which openly promotes this godless adoration of ‘self’. This is the kind of thinking that has plagued mankind since man was created. Our ‘self’ nature is its own god and therefore has to make things happen in life. By using ‘self’s’ logic, one cannot just sit by but instead must make opportunities for oneself. To summarize ‘self’ cannot wait; for anything. Period.

Jesus, on the other hand, bids us to wait on the Lord. In Isaiah 40:31 we read “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” What I would like to point out is the what it means to “wait for the Lord”. The words, expect, look for and hope in, are not passive words. They tell us that God sees waiting not as passive but very active. When we sat in the tent, hotel room, shelter, etc. we had to get food, water, clean up and basically survive. It was some of the hardest work I have ever done in my life. We had very little help and had to search hard for what we needed. Survival is never easy whether it is in the woods or the city. While we were doing all these things, we were also waiting on God.

Waiting on God does not mean you stop living or doing those things He leads you in. Waiting on Him means that your 'self' nature does not initiate any action. That is the key. When we initiate any action we are not waiting on God, not following His will. Initiating action means that ‘self’ is taking the reins of our life and telling us where to go. At this moment ‘self’ is our god telling us what to do. God has nothing to do with what you initiate through ‘self’. He will not bless your ‘self’ led doing either so don’t ask. Nothing that comes from ‘self’ will bring any glory to God. It will only bring glory to ‘self’ and that is a terrible waste.

When we trust and follow Jesus it means that we will only do what the Father is leading us to do. Nothing else. ‘Self’ hates this and will try to interject it’s ideas all the time. It is a continual struggle to not listen to ‘self’ and yet follow the Father’s will. This is the real action of waiting. By not giving us any direction to move but simply to wait on God forces our ‘self’ nature out into the open where it can be exposed. When you are cold, hungry, tired and suffering, ‘self’ wants nothing more than to stop the pain. It will call you to medicate with all sorts of medications like drugs, alcohol, food, sex, shopping, etc., etc. ‘Self’ will beg you to ‘do’ something, anything, to relieve the hardship. Meanwhile God waits and expects you to wait with Him through the suffering. By waiting on Him ‘self’ becomes weaker and weaker because it is not being fed. It is not getting its own way. ‘Self’ must begin to relinquish its place as god in your life so God can be Lord instead. This is the true value of waiting and its sole purpose. Waiting teaches us who really controls our life.

Waiting produces the good fruit we call patient endurance. It is patient because spirit learns to wait on God in faith. The spirit learns that Jesus will not allow us to be destroyed but will preserve those who wait on Him. It is endurance because spirit learns to wait through any hardship for the reward of Jesus. It does not matter how long the night, how cold the weather, how deep the hunger; they are never greater than the reward. Patient endurance is just one of the rewards one gets when one truly learns to “wait for the Lord”.

We have never found waiting to be easy. Even now, in this little hotel room waiting for 7 weeks, it is hard to see what is ahead. It is hard to wait but we know from experience that God has not left us, abandoned us or given up on us. There are still those nagging voices of ‘self’ coming at us from within and without telling us that if we want anything to happen we have to make it happen. I have to laugh at them for they underestimate the patient endurance we have gained waiting on God in the wilderness. God will bring to pass His will in His good time and we will wait for Him.

Today is the start of a new Jewish year. God is letting His people pass under the rod of judgement and inspecting them right now. Will He find you waiting patiently in faith for His will and leading; or will He find you stuck in ‘self’ led doing? Just what will He find? I pray you pay heed to His calling today. “Therefore [earnestly] wait for Me, says the Lord, [waiting] for the day when I rise up to the attack [as a witness, accuser, or judge, and a testimony]. For My decision and determination and right it is to gather the nations together, to assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them My indignation, even all [the heat of] My fierce anger; for [in that day] all the earth shall be consumed with the fire of My zeal and jealousy.” Zephaniah 3:8.