Written by Matthew Macaulay | ChattHOP Staff
Ever since I walked into our newly finished prayer lounge, one of the sentences written on the chalk-board wall resonated deep inside me. As I read it, I felt my spirit do a little leap and testify to the words my eyes had just seen. It said:
“Waiting does not diminish us. For we are enlarged in the waiting.”
It was like I’d just had confirmation and validation of my own journey and experience all at the same time. I’m sure I’m not the only person here to endure the patience testing game of waiting. Waiting is the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens. It is not a popular way to live in today’s society. Day after day we are pummeled with the necessity for immediate success, instant fame, and quick fix solutions to all our problems. The idea of waiting for something or saving up our resources to make a purchase leaves us feeling like we’ve been short changed or a like little like a child that’s been punished for doing nothing wrong.
Most of us have all bought into the idea that the faster you get somewhere, the better. In certain circles, if you haven’t made it by the time you’re 25 then you’re too late and you’re now assigned to second best and making the most of the remaining crumbs left on the table after the feast has finished.
But in my experience this couldn’t be further from the truth. The idea, the journey and the embrace of the discipline of waiting is an essential part of a life lived for the glory of God.
I finished 2 years studying at college in Sydney, Australia in December 2004 as a very confident 20 year old. I held in my heart many dreams, desires and ambitions to take the world by storm. I’d had a very life giving couple of years away from home, meeting people from all around the world and discovering new ways of thinking and endless possibilities. Instant success seemed like it was just around the corner and I was confident I would live out the ideal life that I had mapped out in my head. It was perfect, fun, rewarding, exciting and comfortable. No need to wait for anything or anyone. It was time to live the so-called dream.
The dream didn’t last long; the many ministry promises and opportunities made to me disappeared, and I worked in the back of a cold, damp family run sports shop for nearly 6 years. I experienced relationship breakdowns, church dysfunction, health issues, loneliness, and depression. No door seemed open to me; I was forced to wait. It was like experiencing daily torture to start with and the lack of contentment was almost overwhelming. Day by day God began to break open my self-centeredness and began to break down the invincible false confidence that I’d built my life on.
There came an important moment on my journey of waiting: the acknowledgment of it.
I had been struggling with feeling very low for a long period of time, I had moved back in with my parents again at the age of 28 and although I wasn’t really willing to admit it, deep down, I believed my life was a failure. For example, I was beginning to see the perplexed look of doubt in the eyes of various extended family members as they pondered my current life stage at holiday gatherings and my own ability just to keep going was fading fast.
I got up early one Saturday morning to play a game of golf with my Dad and two of his friends. I remember feeling right on the edge of being able to cope with the mental addition of sporting competition. I managed to pull myself together and make it through the first 11 holes. On the twelfth hole I hit a truly terrible shot off the tee, a shank; not something I’d done since learning the game as a boy. In that moment the phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back” became my reality. I picked my tee up and muttered something under my breath about not wanting to carry on. My dad gave me a puzzled look and we walked up to the green side bunker to take his shot. I couldn’t hold off the torrent of overwhelming disappointment and failure that assaulted my head and my heart any more.
I was faced with the reality of my waiting. Three grown men suddenly found themselves in a pretty awkward situation. To put you in the picture; I am not someone who cries very often at all. I don’t particularly enjoy the concept of crying, me crying, others crying or any crying really. Suddenly, as I erupted, howling, sobbing, and weeping, I was face to face with my inconsolable disappointment and perceived failure. After the predictable male response of one of my dad’s friends trying to quickly remedy the situation and consoling me that my shot really wasn’t that bad and assuring me that things would no doubt improve on the next hole. My dad was, thankfully, a little more perceptive and he walked over put his arm round me and we walked back to the clubhouse together.
I cried on and off for the rest of the day, and just about managed a few sentences to try and explain to my parents what I was feeling. This was really the start of me coming into a healthy relationship with this word waiting.
Something that I’ve had to learn over and over again during the last decade is the duality that exists with waiting. You have to learn to live with the longing and the hope, the fear and the joy, the emptiness and the satisfaction, the testing and the reward.
But I think the most important part of my journey of waiting is the acknowledgement of it and the disappointments that exist. Nobody’s journey of waiting is the same as anyone else’s. But essentially, whether we realise it or not, we are ultimately all waiting for the same thing. Jesus.
Here’s the reality that we are all faced with. On this earth, at this point in time and this side of eternity, we will always wrestle with waiting. The whole of creation is living in a constant state of waiting for the return of Jesus. The whole universe is uttering those same groans and moans and longings that I experienced in a very small way on that golf course.
Our lack of satisfaction and fulfillment points towards our need for Jesus.
In waiting for things here on the earth we learn to better trust in the future hope and glory of a coming kingdom that we both anticipate and embrace. It’s part of the journey of hope for each and every soul saved by the love and grace of Christ.
The most amazing wonderful news that I know as a result of my journey is that as we wait things heal, things grow, things are strengthened.
Just like a newly planted tree, we need time to establish deep roots and receive nourishment to grow so that we can go on bearing fruit year after year and fruit that will last long beyond our lives here on earth and into eternity.
To be honest, I’ve felt hit with doubts and a lack of satisfaction in my life again this week. The truth is, I’m still waiting for lots of things, but in my acknowledgment I find freedom and contentment.
We need to constantly remind ourselves and each other that, “Waiting does not diminish us. For we are enlarged in the waiting.”
I challenge you today to remind your own heart of that truth when you feel sick from your waiting and remind the hearts of those that lose hope or contentment as they wait. Let’s wait well for the hopes of our hearts, and as we do that we will wait well for the risen king, Jesus!
Eugene Peterson translates this passage in Romans 8 amazingly. I want to include this to speak life into our waiting; that we would be enlarged in it, that we won’t diminish and that we will grow into men and women that bear much fruit as we wait.
18-30 "That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins in it until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun."