“Waiting IS Activity”

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).


So often an epiphany comes like the calm after a storm. It drops into my mind like fresh dew, kissed with a ray of light that refreshes my soul. Usually it’s just after a deep conversation where I’m racking my brain to figure something out, to understand why or how. In the moment, any clear comprehension alludes me, but as the mental tempest passes and the fog begins to lift, there it stands as though it was present all the time waiting to be unveiled. God answers “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait,” but the only answer that requires faith is “Wait.”

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15), but what do you do with those who have no answer? Good news or bad news may break the heart, but no news makes it restless, for as Tom Petty sings, “Waiting is the hardest part.” A missing person or pending report twirl the mind into a tornado of thoughts, swirling the imagination so as to allow for no solace. If waiting is doing nothing, why does it take so much energy?

Years ago, Michael Wells taught that the Old Testament word equivalent to “faith” was “wait.” The word “faith” is only used two or three times in the OT (according to NASB concordance), and carries more the idea of faithfulness or obedience to God.

The Hebrew word for “wait” is qavah (kaw-vaw’); a primitive root meaning “to bind together (perhaps by twisting).” It carries the idea of tension, stretching, enduring, as threads or strands are woven together to make something like a spider’s web or a sturdy rope. If you’ve ever taken the time to watch a spider spin her web, you’ve observed the intricacy and strength of the web emerge as she persists.

Suppose you went to “BenBob’s Rope Shop” in 2,000 B.C. to buy a rope to pull your ox out of a ditch. You’re in a hurry, but when you arrive, no one’s manning the front desk. You wait for a minute, pacing the dirt floor, until you notice a little bell and a sign that reads, “Ring for service.” You shake it frantically, hoping someone will hear quickly and come to your aid. A little frail lady shuffles to the counter from a side room and asks, “May I help you?” “Yes!” you volcanically vociferate, startling the poor woman, “I have an ox in the ditch and need a super strong rope to get it out! And I need it right away!” The woman gently combs her hair back down with her crooked fingers and responds, “Well just a moment sonny and I’ll fetch BenBob.” “Yeah, where is BenBob anyway? Why isn’t he up here when I need him?” you bark back breathlessly. “Why, sonny, he’s out back waiting.” To which you shout, “Well tell BenBob I’m out front waiting too!” At this point, the patient partner realizes you don’t “get it,” so she tolerantly takes you by the hand and leads you to BenBob. As you pass through the camel-skin partition, you notice a hunched-over, elderly gentleman sitting on a three-legged stool picking up strands of fine, horse hair and flimsy straw and weaving them together one-at-a-time into a braided rope. Now you get the picture. As desperately as you need the fulfillment of your order, you realize the longer you wait, the stronger your rope will be.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” (Ps. 27:14)

“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;
they will mount up
 with wings like eagles, they will run and
not get tired, they will walk and not become weary”
(Is. 40:31).
“Good things come to those who wait,” they say, but don’t think Scripture paints a pretty picture of prevailing patience. Recall Abraham and Sarah waiting on a child. Romans 4:19-20 says, “Without becoming weak in faith…he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith,” yet a nation of “wild donkeys” (today’s terrorists) was birthed in the process of their waiting. (Gen. 16:12). Jacob wrestled with God until he pulled up lame. Joseph wondered when his dream would come true. Moses killed a man as he tried to figure out how a “basket case” turned desert-dweller would ever become a deliver. A wishy-washy Israel still held out hope for a Savior, but only after her unfaithfulness caught up with her over and over again. Mary and Joseph vacillated between vindicating their reputation or God’s, yet all of these made the “hall of faith” list in Hebrews 11, waiting on God to come through on His promise.

Waiting is activity; persistent, tension-filled, gut-twisting tarrying. “Watchful waiting” or “Active surveillance” is what urologists call the period between prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment. No one knows how long it will last. It’s a hovering consciousness of the “C” word you wish you could suppress; a helium balloon of thoughts you cannot keep down. Yet, in the waiting, faith rises along side, believing “God causes all things to work together for good” (Rom. 8:28). Faith is designed to keep expanding until it includes all things, even death.

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

Don’t think your thin strands of endurance or weak attempts at trusting aren’t weaving themselves into something far greater than meets the eye, for “those of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38) demonstrated the greatest faith in not receiving what was promised. Our faith is in a Person, not an outcome. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).
I love Job’s honesty: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him” (Job 13:15). The Lord has gotten a piece of my mind a time or two these past two years, but in the end He also get’s my trust. It’s comforting to know that great faith can include moments of anxiety, anger, doubt, and fear. We may stagger or stumble, but we will fall forward into the faithful arms of Jesus.
So if you’re struggling in the waiting, welcome to the authentic journey in this “mysterical life.” Most people will eventually adjust their lives to a firm “Yes” or “No” from God, but actively waiting on God while believing can be most unnerving to us and most pleasing to Him at the same time (Heb. 11:6). “Hang in there, Baby!” Because in reality, the Rope is holding you!

Click this link and listen to the “Are You Trying or Trusting?” sermon I shared at FBS last summer. I’m having to practice what I preach! I trust you’ll be encouraged.