It seems that most of my life I have been waiting. When I was a child, Christmas could not arrive fast enough and when I was a teenager, all I could think about was driving a car. Today, I’m waiting to find out if my cancer has spread.
Every three months, Mary and I fly to DC and take the Metro to Bethesda. We check into the Hyatt and the following morning we take the shuttle to NIH. First stop, Phlebotomy for a dozen or so tubes of blood and then we wait until my clinic appointment. Because of the pandemic, my March 15 appointment at NIH was canceled and will be rescheduled when it’s safer to fly. Aside from the update on my cancer, I also missed out on meeting my older brother Mel for the first time.
My younger brother Todd (who I’ve known all of his life) loves exploring our family tree. About a year ago he received a notice from 23 and Me with news that he (we) had a niece who lived in Connecticut. After exchanging messages and a DNA test we found out her father was our full brother. Mom and dad have since passed and no one in our family is left to fill in the blanks.
Todd and I have had several phone conversations with Mel, and we planned to meet in DC along with our wives. Since our trip to NIH got canceled the three brothers and their wives decided to meet via Zoom on the same day we were scheduled to join up in DC. Mel, Todd and I have eerily similar gestures and share many of the same attributes. We all laugh easily and have similar interests. When I talk to Mel it’s like I’m talking to myself. He has a sales and management background and has faced similar health issues. One weird thing for me is that for 64 years I’ve been the oldest in the family and now I’m that pesky “middle” child! I was really looking forward to meeting Mel and his wife, Louise, in DC and taking a bunch of photos. I guess I’ve waited this long so what’s a couple more months?
There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that give us insight about waiting. For example, 2 Peter 3:8-9 tells us “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 promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you”. Psalm 27:18 says “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 40:31;“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
Depending on what version of the Bible you read, the word “wait” could be replaced with “trust” or “hope”. Wait, trust and hope. These words are spiritually entwined and at their root is the concept of obedience. In the New Living Translation, when we are obedient, the Lord gives us not just strength but new strength. In Hebrew the word for strength in this passage is gavah which means “to bind together”. The scripture goes on to paint a picture of endless strength.
The command to wait on the Lord is found extensively throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, it is more about waiting for the Lord’s divine care, but most New Testament references relate to Christ’s second coming. In all cases, it is about waiting expectantly and with hope. Fundamental to being able to wait is trusting God’s character and goodness.
Waiting on the Lord necessitates two key elements: a complete dependence on God and a willingness to allow Him to decide the terms, including the timing of His plan. Trusting God with the timing of events is one of the hardest things to do. The half-joking prayer, “Lord, I need patience, and I need it RIGHT NOW,” is not far removed from the truth of how we often approach matters of spiritual growth and the Lord’s will. To wait on the Lord produces character in the life of the Christian in that it involves patience (see James 1:4). Waiting involves the passage of time, which is itself a gift of God
The Kendrick brothers have produced a series of Christian movies, and one of my favorites is “Fireproof”. Kirk Cameron, from Growing Pains fame, plays Caleb Holt, a heroic fire captain who values dedication and service to others above all else. But the most important partnership in his life, his marriage, is about to go up in smoke. Caleb agrees to participate in a 40 day “Love Dare” suggested by his father. I’ve seen the movie 3 or 4 times and it always chokes me up.
The lyrics below are from the song, “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller, featured in the movie.
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait
Here is a link to the video of this song along with clips from the movie.
Over the years, I’ve learned that patience is something you develop while you’re waiting. We all wait for something or someone but it’s what we do while we’re waiting that counts. There’s an old Russian proverb that goes “Pray to God, but row ashore”. I’ve thought about what this means and here’s what I’ve come up with. It’s the idea of a man or woman stranded in a rowboat in the middle of the ocean. Certainly, a Godly person would spend time in prayer asking God for a way out. All of us would wait, trust and hope that a ship would come by and rescue us, but new strength would tell us to pick up the oars and row ashore.