I love the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, because it was the first thing to really open my eyes to how much waiting we do as God’s people. I’ve fallen for the old wives’ tail that being a Christian should equal a perfect life. It doesn’t. It equals a better life – a real life, a full life, a true life, a fulfilled and passionate life. But it doesn’t equal a perfect life by the world’s standards. It is a race, a battle. A long journey of faith as we follow a God who is patiently waiting for the world to know His name.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV)
Why does He allow us to wait? I think there are a couple reasons He’s let me wait in my life.
1) Waiting produces real faith. It’s not faith if we never have to put it into practice. It’s a theory. But when we’re forced to live out our faith and put our walk where our talk is, we experience real faith. The kind that sustains us when we can’t see the next step or what’s behind the next door, and the kind that draws us closer to God as we hang on to Him for dear life like a branch to a vine.
2) We’re slow to act. I don’t think God allows us to wait through abuse or neglect because He wants us to suffer. I think we wait through those situations because He’s asking someone to step in and move, someone to change their ways, someone to stop their bad behavior, or someone to do something about it, and that person / those people are just not doing it. It takes courage to step in and stop a bad situation. It takes faith and endurance and lot and lots of love, and I think as people it’s really hard for us to rise to that challenge with everything else going on in our lives.
Before that sounds harsh, let me explain. There can be whole spider webs of reasons why we don’t listen when God says move: it doesn’t seem realistic, we need a “real” job that requires us to work real long hours and doesn’t leave a lot of time for saving orphans or feeding hungry people or helping others at all, we’re just plain exhausted by the demands of this world, we’re carrying around mountains of debt that leave us in bondage to other people’s interests and demands instead of God’s, a whole lot of other people tell us not to, the thing we’d stand up against is so much bigger than us.
I personally have not acted when God says act because of all of the above.
Sometimes it’s just not the right time to help in ways we otherwise might want to. Like when we’re sick. Or broke for reasons other than our own choices. Or when we’re the ones in need of healing and rescuing and saving. Sometimes our limits are not the result of things we’ve done or fears we have. I’ve spent a lot of my life in this camp too. And in those cases, I think we make this world a better place just by trusting in God for our healing and restoration and helping others do the same.
But I truly believe a lot of people wouldn’t have to do so much waiting if those of us who know Christ truly embraced the power of God in us to set aside our own priorities and do something about poverty, sickness, unfair debt, inequality, abuse, sex slavery, and all the things that others are waiting to be rescued from. This is one of the biggest strongholds I face. I want so bad to go out and make this world a better place, and I do my best to do that with my actions. But let’s be real, not only am I human and sometimes fall flat on my face when it comes to the “following Jesus in my thoughts and actions” category because of my own pride or emotions or human nature – I’m also a big scaredy cat when it comes to stepping out in faith in big ways that could make a big difference.
When I think about that big picture of pain and hurting out there, it can be seriously overwhelming. We need a Savior. I’m so grateful we have one.
I mentioned earlier this week that I’ve waited and am waiting and that God’s done incredible things in my life to draw me closer to Him through it and to rescue me and heal me. He is so so good.
But I hope that I can continue to grow closer and closer to Him so that when He says “move” I saw “how fast?” I hope that as others wait, I can be God’s hands and feet to bring hope and healing into their lives.