Have you noticed that waiting has become conspicuous in our lives these last few years?
• Waiting for the Covid shot to be developed.
• Waiting for that first Covid shot – then the second and then the third.
• Waiting in line at the hardware store during lockdown while staff fetch a couple of tubes of caulking.
• Waiting for Covid to be done with us.
• Waiting for Putin’s army to be pushed out of Ukraine.
Waiting is more noticeable, but it’s nothing new. Lots of my favourite Bible stories include waiting, or the option of waiting.
Consider Noah in the ark waiting for the waters of the flood to recede. He released a dove to check on progress. It came back for lack of a place to perch. “He waited seven more days and sent out the dove again.” (Genesis 8:10) On the third check, the dove did not come back.
Consider Abraham’s servant, on a mission to find a wife for his master’s son Isaac. Rebecca is found! Brother Laban and Rebecca’s mother agree to the marriage but ask that leaving wait 10 days. Abraham’s servant responds: “Oh, don’t make me wait! God has worked everything out so well—send me off to my master.” (Genesis 24:56 MSG). Rebecca decides there will be no waiting.
Consider Joseph’s brothers on their second trip to Egypt to buy food. Frightened and flummoxed, they apologize profusely about their money found in all their sacks on the way home during the first trip. I can picture Joseph’s steward shrugging his shoulders as he says, “It’s all good. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” (Genesis 24:25) He makes them comfortable in Joseph’s house—water to wash their feet, feed for their donkeys—and tells them they are to have lunch with the lord over the land of Egypt. “The brothers spread out their gifts as they waited for the lord over the land, Joseph, to show up at noon.” No doubt, they waited in fear, “….he’s going to turn us into slaves and confiscate our donkeys.” (Genesis 24:18)
Consider the Philistines’ attempt to trap Samson when they learned he was visiting a prostitute in Gaza. “So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. At dawn we’ll kill him.” (Judges 16:2) But Samson stayed only until midnight—and on his way out took with him the city gate along with its posts.
Consider Jonah after he had reluctantly delivered his doomsday message to the citizens of Nineveh. “…. he made himself a makeshift shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. (Jonah 4:5) A teaching moment followed, as God arranged for a broad-leafed tree to spring up over Jonah to cool him and get him out of his huff. The next day the tree withered. Then God arranged for a scorching east wind, and Jonah’s huff became a sulk. “Jonah, you went from pleasure to anger about a tree; can I, God, not go from anger to pleasure about the great city of Nineveh?” and finally…
The most consequential of waits!
Consider the most consequential of waits. In Acts 1:4, Jesus commands his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my Father promised ….” For forty days after his resurrection, Jesus had spoken to his disciples about the kingdom of God—and now left them waiting. A momentous wait! On the fiftieth day, on Pentecost, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit.