A Course on Miracles: Waiting 301
I went to see a doctor the other day and it took two hours and forty-five minutes! It wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to spend my day. The first thing the doctor said when he came into the exam room was, “I’m sorry to keep you waiting.” This little part of me was thinking, “Have you never been to see the doctor, Doctor? Are you actually surprised that I had to wait? I’ve never not had to wait unbelievable amounts of time. Thanks for the apology, but it seems a little too little too late.” Someone needs to do a study and find out how much time Americans spend in doctor’s waiting rooms each year.
Then I went to the pharmacy! Let me just say one thing. We put a man on the moon. It just seems to me that there has to be a way to have your prescription ready for you when you leave! How long does it take to put pills in a bottle?
I hate waiting. I don’t like waiting for food when I’m hungry. I don’t like waiting in traffic. I don’t like waiting in the store. I don’t like waiting for the light to change. I don’t like waiting for green eggs and ham. I don’t like waiting Sam I Am.
I hate waiting, but here’s the deal. If you want to experience a miracle you can’t just seek and believe. You’ve got to be willing to wait. Most of us love quick and easy miracles, but there is usually a season of waiting before a miracle happens. Unfortunately, most miracles are forfeited because we give up too soon. Learning how to wait is as important as learning how to seek and how to believe. II Peter 3:8 says, “Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises as some understand slowness.”
I love the story I heard a few years ago about the man who was having a conversation with God. The man said, “God, how long is a million years to you?” God said, “A million years is like a second.” The man asked, “How much is a million dollars to you?” God said, “A million dollars is like a penny.” The man said, “Could you spare a penny?” God said, “Sure, just wait a second.”
Sometimes that is how it feels isn’t it? I think all of us love easy answers to our questions and easy solutions to our problems. But easy answers and easy solutions produce shallow convictions. I think part of us wants easy miracles. We want miracles we hardly have to work for or pray for. But I think easy miracles produce shallow faith. The harder we have to work and the longer we have to pray the more faith a miracle produces.
You may or may not know, but we are looking for a “home” for Life Church. Buying property or looking for a permanent lease space was humanly impossible two years ago when Life Church started. We didn’t have the money. We didn’t have people. It was a crazy idea. But we were willing to wait. We tarried in prayer and the dream is becoming reality because we didn’t give up!
God never promised us easy miracles. I think some of us think God is going to wave His wand and do miracles “on command.” But most miracles require us to pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on us. God told the Israelite He was “giving” them the Promised Land right? But the inhabitants didn’t roll over and play dead. The Israelites had to fight for the miracle.
Here’s the deal. God’s gifts are free, but they aren’t easy to open. Have you ever seen a toddler try to open a really well-wrapped gift? That is what it’s like opening God’s gifts. They require a ton of effort to get open!
If we think it’s going to be easy we’ll get discouraged. The Israelites had to fight for it. They had to occupy it and weed it and plant it and harvest it and defend it. I think some of us expect miracles to just materialize, but we’ve got to pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on us.
Deuteronomy 8:7 says, “The Lord is bringing you into a good land–a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.” I think there is a powerful principle in that last phrase: the miracle is buried somewhere. What we have to do is dig. God didn’t say, “There will be perfectly fashioned copper pipes and copper coins laying on the sidewalks.” He told them there was copper in the hills, but the Israelites had to go mining. They had to dig for the promise.
Waiting doesn’t mean sitting around twiddling your thumbs. It means taking the initiative. Going into this past summer we didn’t have more than probably 10 kids in our children’s ministry program. One day our we felt like the Spirit of God was prompting us to buy a couple inflatables “in faith.” We were barely making ends meet so a $4,000 investment was a big deal back then. We bought the inflatables and now … look at our children’s ministry program and the opportunities we have had to serve our community with them!
I think we ought to be the most optimistic people on the planet. Those of us who are Spirit-filled and Spirit-led ought to live in a state of constant expectancy-watching and waiting to see what God is going to do next.
In Luke 2, there are two white-haired heroes that I’ve grown to love. Simeon and Anna. They probably relied on their canes to support themselves physically, but they were young at heart. Luke 2:25 says this about Simeon. “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the Temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took the boy in his arms and praising God, saying: ‘Sovereign, Lord, as you have promised you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation’.”
The word “wait” means “to await with confidence and patience.” It is living in constant expectation. That is what God has called us to. And that is only possible as we focus on the promises of God.
What if Naaman had only dipped in the Jordan six times? What if Elijah had only prayed for rain six times? What if the Israelites had only walked around Jericho six times? They would have forfeited the miracles because they would have given up too soon.
It’s always too soon to give up on God. But if we keep seeking and keep believing and keep waiting we’ll experience miracles!
I want to start in II Kings 5. If you have a Bible you can turn over there. Naaman was the commander of the army of King Aram. II Kings 5:1 says, “He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.” To make a long story short, the King of Aram sent him to Elisha the prophet to be healed. II Kings 5:9-11, “9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, ‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.’ 11 But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and cal on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.'”
Let me make a couple observations. I think most of us fall into the trap Naaman fell into. We want God the miracle to happen the way we want the miracle to happen. We develop these expectations of how God is going to do what God is going to do. And when it doesn’t happen when we want or how we want we get frustrated. That is what happens to Naaman. He says, “I thought he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.”
I think most miracles are forfeited because we give up too soon. Naaman had to dip in the Jordan River seven times before his leprosy was healed. Elijah prayed for rain seven times before a cloud appeared on the horizon. The Israelites marched around the city seven times before the walls came tumbling down.
So here is what I wonder. What if Naaman had only dipped in the river six times? What if Elijah had only prayed for rain six times? What if the Israelites had only made six trips around the wall? I think the miracle would have been forfeited because they would have given up too soon. Keep on Keeping on!