Hurry Up and Wait

29861You, too, must be patient. Do not give up hope, because the Lord is coming soon. Brothers and sisters, do not complain against each other or you will be judged guilty. And the Judge is ready to come! Brothers and sisters, follow the example of the prophets who spoke for the Lord. They suffered many hard things, but they were patient. James 5:8-10

I remember the fresh earth smell of spring. As soon as farmers could get in the field, the machinery and the men were out in force. But there was a lot of work that went into preparation long before the actual breaking of the ground. Machines were checked to insure proper operations. Repairs were made. Bearings were oiled. Engines were started. The soil was checked regularly for moisture. Many farmers had more than one field to tend, and all fields needed to be checked, since one held more moisture than another. Seed, fertilizer and chemicals were ordered and stocked. Weather was carefully watched, because much of what needed to be done not only depended on the immediate rain or shine but the pending rain, sunshine and wind. Certain chemicals and fertilizers needed to be applied under specific conditions, or the time, cost, and effort would be in vain.

There always seemed to be pressure to get things done. There didn’t seem to be any leisure time. Weather-permitting, machinery was in the field from sun-up to sun-down (and even longer if machinery was equipped with lights and could handle the extended hours). Meals were delivered to the field. All family activities other than farming ceased or were creatively modified for the season. When weather didn’t permit field work, there was a long list of catch up tasks to accomplish: minor machinery repair, cleaning, maintenance, as well as many other tasks around the farm that couldn’t be overlooked. It was rush, rush, rush to get as much done during the long days.

Even in the midst of rush, there was a lot of patience required: waiting for weather to shift, waiting for a machinery part to be delivered, waiting to see if plants emerged well from the earth. Of course, there was no sitting around and twiddling of thumbs during the wait. Farming involves too much multi-tasking for a sit-and-wait mindset. Patience, focus, and multi-tasking all had to be juggled within a farmer’s mind and schedule.

When have you struggled with patience?

How has being busy (or not) affected your patience?

We hurry up and wait spiritually.

We have seasons of flurry when we don’t seem to have time to breathe. The habits we’ve established before such seasons impact how we respond. If we have healthy habits of worship, study, service, prayer, and fellowship, we will typically maintain at least a modified version of such faith-building focus. Habits stabilize us through the busy times of life. We have familiarity on which to rely. When we start something new during times of great change and stress, we will rarely be successful in establishing something that lasts long and impacts us deeply. The preparation time before the chaos has a more lasting impact.

Busy times don’t exclude waiting and patience. Even in the midst of busyness, we have questions and requests for God. We wait on him to guide, provide, and answer. We want to know, but he doesn’t want us to stop growing our faith and building our relationship with him simply because everything is not perfectly in place. Yes, he wants us to be still in his presence, but being still is not always physical. God wants us to still ourselves in whatever ways that will help us be in his presence and prepare ourselves to listen. If that means stilling yourself physically, you need to do that for a time in order to hear clearly from him. For most people and situations, being still is more about us stilling ourselves and the many voices around us by which we’re influenced. We can still be seeking God and responding to him in other areas of our lives, because we surely don’t question him about everything at once.

We can excuse our uninvolvement as stillness, rationalizing, “I’m going to sit right here and not move until God tells me which way to go” when in reality, he simply wants us to take a step of faith. He has no intention of giving us the plan for the complete journey. He’ll reveal step 2 after step 1 and step 3 after step 2. We have to trust him one step at a time.

We can also excuse our flurry of activity as doing “good” for God when we’re not listening to him for guidance in the process. What we’re doing might be good, but it might not be our calling. It might not be in God’s purpose for us. Oh, he’ll certainly use everything we offer, but what we offer in obedience to his will is where he wants us to be. We need to ask God for guidance and move in response instead of moving forward and asking God to bless the steps we’ve already chosen to take without his permission.

Do you tend to move ahead without God’s guidance or sit still while waiting for God to be obvious in his revelation?

God has a purpose for you. You need to get busy and be who and where he intends you to be. It’s time to be productive for him. In the meantime, you’re going to have to be patient – with yourself, others around you and even with God. You can do it. God has a lot of patience and is great at multi-tasking, and he created you in his image!

God is fair; he will not forget the work you did and the love you showed for him by helping his people. And he will remember that you are still helping them. We want each of you to go on with the same hard work all your lives so you will surely get what you hope for. We do not want you to become lazy. Be like those who through faith and patience will receive what God has promised. (Hebrews 6:10-12)

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