Did you ever have your mouth washed out with soap for speaking a 4-letter word? I don’t know if parents still do this. It used to be that a parent would “wash” the filthy words out of their kid’s mouth by forcing a lathered bar into their kisser. I’m guessing the psychology was that their precious child would be so traumatized by the washing that they’d never want to use that word again. Although I never experienced the ritual, I don’t think it would have worked. Kids I knew still used all the “banned” 4-letter words. They were just more covert around grownups after eating soap.
In my twenties, I was a slinger of 4-letter words. These days, most of them make me cringe when I hear them. But there’s one 4-letter word in particular that does more than irritate me. It trips me up and often makes my blood pressure rise. What is the all-time worst 4-letter word in the world? W-A-I-T
Wait. I hate to wait. “But patience is a virtue.” Yes, one I obviously don’t have.
Patience has never been a strong suit for me. I was a forerunner of the current societal philosophy of “Why Wait?” Instant gratification. Run full-steam ahead. Figure it out on the fly. If you reach a stopping point in one direction, turn and head a different way. Never stop. Never wait. Always keep moving toward something. Even if you’re not sure what. Be nimble and quick and ready to jump over every candlestick.
The problem with jumping candlesticks? (this is a metaphor, of course) What is a candlestick and why are we jumping it? Could we be wasting our energy jumping unnecessarily? And how do we know what’s on the other side?
Several years ago my candlestick jumping days started to wane. I was changing. I finally began to realize that being impulsive and taking matters into my own hands didn’t mean I was in control. It just meant there was no one else I could blame for my bad decisions. The truth is that when faced with most decisions, I know very little about what lies ahead on any given path. But God knows. He is the one in control.
God is the Master Strategist with the plan. He knows what should happen, and when, for ultimate glory.
If I were God, people like me would drive me crazy. Here I (as God) went through enormous strides to line things up for a great result and–ZOOM–there goes someone like me running ahead or bounding off into the wilderness. Thankfully for all of us, I’m not God. His patience with us is something I can’t even begin to fathom. Gently, but sternly, He assures us: He is God, not us. He wants to use our time of waiting as preparation.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
God wants the best for us. He wants us to wait for Him so His plan can unfold. He wants us to wait with Him so He can teach us. He wants us to wait in Him so we can grow in strength and wisdom. Oddly, the truth is that it takes more strength to wait than to run blindly ahead. People who wait and seek God’s leading aren’t timid or indecisive. They’re strong and wise as they demonstrate restraint.
God had His work cut out as He pursued me in the world and began calling me to Him. He patiently worked in my heart and my life as He transformed me from the inside out. I still have a long way to go. I will never be inherently patient. My first instinct may not be to turn to God and wait. I will always be a work in progress.
You may feel the same way too. WAIT may be an annoying 4-letter word that exasperates you. You may hate to wait for anything. Including God’s plan. And at the same time, you may doubt that God will wait for you to get on board. That He’ll wait for you to come to Him. And if He will wait, for how long?
Trust me. He’ll wait. He believes we’re worth it. And He’s got all the time in the world. Eternity in fact. The question is, how long do we have? If God is calling, why wait?
“So the LORD must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.” Isaiah 30:18 (NLT)
May I pray?
Heavenly Father, it’s hard to wait. We’re taught to go after what we want, and we want it now. Teach us, Lord, to go after You instead. And please help us to learn the discipline of waiting for Your timing. Not passive, sit down and sulk waiting. But active waiting as we prepare for what You have next. Thank you for making us wait so we’ll be ready. Amen.
Q4U: What is the hardest part of waiting?