Comments Off on Waiting

Throughout November we’re taking an in-depth look at Ruth, the little book that helped pave the way for God’s Messiah to come into the world.

In the New Testament, Peter writes that for the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day. 

One fellow pondered the meaning of that and then said,  “Lord, is it really true that a thousand years to us is just like a minute to you?”  God answered, “Yes, that’s true.”  The man then said, “So a million dollars to us is like a penny to you?”  “Exactly right,” said God.  Whereupon the man asked, “Lord, could I have just one of those pennies?”  “Sure,” said God.  “Could you wait here for just one minute?”

We all want the penny, but we’re not so excited about the minute.  We’re pumped about receiving God’s riches.  But God’s timing can seem flat out frustrating. 

Nevertheless, what God accomplishes in us while we are waiting is often just as important as what we are waiting for. 

Even though Boaz is ready and willing to marry Ruth and serve as her kinsman-redeemer, there is another male family member who retains the “first rights,” so to speak, to become her husband.  Therefore Boaz needs to go and work things out with this man, knowing there’s a real possibility he may lose Ruth forever. 

In the meantime, what does Naomi say to Ruth? 

“Wait, my daughter…” (Ruth 3:18).   

She has been courageous, she has been daring, and she has been hopeful every step of the way.  But now she needs to wait while Boaz tries to work things out.  Waiting for God to open the next door, after we have done all that we can do, may be the single hardest thing that he asks of us.

Waiting demands more than just patience.  It requires humility.  When we are compelled to wait, we come face to face with the fact that we’re not in control. 

As author and pastor John Ortberg points out, “In American society there is a direct correlation between status and waiting.  The higher your status, the less you have to wait.  Lower-status people always wait on higher-status people.”

If you think you’re someone special, try walking into the BMV and demanding to have your driver’s license renewed immediately.  What you’ll hear is, “Take a number and wait your turn.”  The BMV is a great place to receive a refresher course in humility.  So is the waiting room of a busy medical practice.  “I’m an exceedingly important person, and I insist that the doctor sees me right away.”  Ortberg knows of a busy CEO who was so frustrated at having to sit in a waiting room that he actually sent the doctor a bill for his time.

But waiting is good for us.  It is a hard gift.  But it is a gift nonetheless. 

That’s because what we wait for is not more important than what happens to us while we are waiting. 

Isaiah the prophet declares, “Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted.  But those who wait for the Lord will renew their strength…” (Isaiah 40:30-31).  While waiting to see what God will do next, Ruth is becoming the kind of person who will know from experience that God can be trusted. 

All of us need to be reminded not to give up, even when it seems we’ve been waiting a very long time. 

Few public speakers in history have so electrified audiences as Sir Winston Churchill.  His rhetoric almost singlehandedly sustained the courage of Britain during the darkest days of World War II. 

In the spring of 1941 – after the nation had survived months of relentless bombing by German aircraft – Churchill was asked to deliver the commencement address at Harrow, the school where he himself had received mediocre grades.  As the event unfolded,  the headmaster became anxious.  Churchill dozed off and slept through part of the ceremony.

When introduced, however, he walked to the podium, gazed at the assembled crowd of British schoolboys, and proceeded to deliver one of the most famous speeches of the twentieth century.  It was just 47 words long. 

Churchill said, “This is the lesson: Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.  Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”  He then sat down. 

Historians wonder:  How many boys were forever impacted by those few words, words that in all likelihood came surging back during the most dispiriting moments of their lives? 

Hope plus courage equals perseverance. 

We wait for God to work.  We hang on to our trust in him, even in the face of uncertainty. 

If we never, never, never surrender that conviction, we’ll be ready to follow him – no matter where he chooses to lead.