Wed, April 24, 2024

Faith Friday: The Now and the Not Yet

Steve Swanson is the former station manager of 88.3 WAFJ radio station in North Augusta.

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m sitting in my high school history class. Getting a little restless. The clock on the wall has no second hand and seems to move at a glacial speed. Clunk. Another minute passes and the minute hand moves to its new position. I glance out the second-story window and then look back to the front of the room where the teacher’s voice has taken on the persona of the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons. “Wah-Wah-Wah.” Will this class EVER end? It feels unlikely. Again, the clunk of the minute hand as it s-l-o-w-l-y fulfills its assignment and indicates the passage of time. One more clunk and the bell FINALLY rings. Class is over, I am free for the weekend!

It felt like it would never happen. That class would go on forever. But it did end. And now, more than 50 YEARS have passed for me since I was a high school student.

Let’s face it. It is HARD to wait. Hard to wait for news from the doctor about test results. Hard to wait for word from an estranged daughter. Hard to wait for news about the promotion. Hard to wait for a report about becoming pregnant or if the adoption is going to go through. Hard to sit through a class you’re only mildly interested in, but one that is required for your degree. Let’s face it, for some of us, it’s hard to even wait at a drive-through, a traffic light, or even for the microwave.

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We want things (pretty much EVERYTHING) to happen on our schedules, on our timetable. But you don’t have to live very long to realize that is not reality. Life just doesn’t work that way.

The Bible provides us with examples of real people who addressed their waiting challenges in different ways. Some, Like Noah, kept plugging along with his God-assigned task of building an ark (with no water present). Many speculate it may have taken 55 years or more to build the ark.

Another prominent Bible character, Abraham decided to take matters into his own hands. God made a covenant with him, promising him an heir. An heir whose descendants would become a nation throughout the land of Canaan. Abraham, at that time known as Abram was 86, he got impatient and chose to have a child with his wife’s servant. The Bible reference Illumina finishes the story this way:

At long last, when Abraham was 100 years old and his wife was 90, “The LORD did exactly what he had promised” (Genesis 21:1). The aged couple could not contain their joy at the birth of their long-promised son. Both Abraham and Sarah had laughed in unbelief in the days of promise; now they laughed and rejoiced at their fortune. The baby, “born in God’s timing,” was named Isaac (“he laughs!”). Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter! All who hear about this will laugh with me.” (21:6)

I love the fact that the Bible shows us imperfect people in their strongest times of faith and confidence, as well as their times of struggles, fear, and doubt. It sure makes them easier to relate to – more than one-dimensional characters wearing white robes and singing “Kumbaya” seemingly without a care in the world!

Noah and Abraham are just two examples from the Bible that show us that real faith is not lived in a vacuum. Faith doesn’t mean that waiting will be easy. It does, however, give us confidence that our always-faithful God is at work, even when we can’t see his activity with our limited senses. We can trust him!

So, what do you do when you find yourself in a “now and yet” season of waiting? What can we learn from spending time in life’s waiting room? Glad you asked!

  1. We can learn to “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. It’s a well-known verse with a vital truth. God is in control. We need to slow our lives down long enough to sit still (yes, literally) without screens at our fingertips, and other distractions, and quietly acknowledge who God is and that we choose to trust him.
  2. Patience- A word that I rarely hear to describe many people. We CAN learn to wait patiently. Psalm 27:14 is a terrific reminder. “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”(I find it interesting that the writer of the Psalm repeated the encouragement for emphasis – even within the same verse).

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  1. “Waiting time is not wasted time.” That’s a phrase I heard long ago that serves as a needed reminder as life moves forward. God is under no obligation to move at a pace of our choosing. There are no doubt times when it feels like he is not listening to our prayers or that he is focused on the urgent needs of another. Often, God is working to refresh, teach, renew, strengthen, and direct us during these times. We learn a deeper level of trust as we wait on Him. Psalm 40:1 brings us this reminder. “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.”
  2. Perspective. My Dad is now 94. As he talks about his life, he has many years to reflect on. He often tells me what a great life he’s had and reminds me that there are very few things that are worth frustration and wasted energy. When you’re in a waiting time, remember God’s faithfulness in the past. You’ve gotten through whatever you’ve faced in the past; you will navigate this point in your life as well.

 

These reminders are also for me today as I find myself in a “Now and not yet” place. It’s not a comfortable or “fun” place to be. But it really can deepen your faith and provide encouragement to trust God. He is ALWAYS good and ALWAYS faithful!

How big is the God you trust?

“Let us firmly hold the profession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

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