Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“This morning, Lord, I pray
Safeguard us through the day,
Especially at corners of the way.
For unexpected things
Swoop down on sudden wings
And overthrow us with their buffetings.
And so, dear Lord, we pray,
Control and guard this day
Thy children at the corners of their way.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And so he did according to the word of the Lord; he went and dwelt by the brook, Cherith, east of the Jordan.
1 Kings 17:5
"The Cherith Experience
Is Waiting Time Wasted Time?"
“The Lord’s timing is not ours. His is perfect.”
Have I ever felt that God’s timing, which kept me waiting, seemed as though it was wasted time?
As I review my life, what lessons have I learned from “waiting time”?
“Simply wait upon Him. So doing we shall be directed, supplied, protected, corrected, and rewarded.”
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning.”
Psalm 130: 5, 6
I despise waiting. There I said it. When we first opened our company thirty years ago, our very first client, who was founder and CEO of one of the largest international feeding organizations at that time, relished the idea of keeping people waiting. I was warned, long before our first meeting together, that he used “waiting” as a way to control and intimidate. Knowing this fact ahead of time, I always planned ahead and went to my meetings with him, carrying all kinds of other projects I could work on during the “waiting” time -- which on one occasion was over four hours. Let me tell you, I finished all the current projects I’d brought with me that day so I can report to you that my waiting time wasn’t wasted time.
This leads me to let you in on the reason I chose the title I did for today’s devotional. It is a question I’ve asked myself on more than one occasion: Is Waiting Time Wasted Time?
Honestly, there have been many times I thought it was. More than once in my life, I found myself working at jobs for which I thought my talents and abilities were no match. Some jobs were boring. Others were, to me, “below my skill-level.” I must say I really could relate to one of God’s daughters who emailed me the other day, sharing her frustration with her current work. It seems someone higher up in the chain of command in her company had pigeon-holed her, thinking her capabilities gave her only the ability to do one certain type of work within the company. It was easy for me to sympathize with her because in my younger years, I’d hit a ceiling at one of my jobs where I was told, in no uncertain terms, the reason I’d never be promoted before one of the other individuals in my department was because he was a male who had been at the organization longer. It didn’t matter that I happened to be doing a better job and working longer hours, carrying the load of two positions, my own and one the company decided not to fill when a person left, unexpectedly.
To say I was annoyed with the situation would be an understatement. I fussed inside. I fumed to close friends. I griped to my husband Jim. And finally one day, Jim had enough. “Are you glad you have work,” he asked? “Yes,” I petulantly shot back. “Well then,” he astutely observed, “Why don’t you let this be a good learning experience. Take on all the tasks you can handle that will teach you how the organization runs. You may be surprised what all this knowledge leads to.”
Guess what? My dear husband really hit a grand slam with his advice. It wasn’t but a few months later until the head of the department left. Then the assistant to the head left. And finally, I was the only person who could do the work. A few weeks later, I nearly dropped in my tracks when I was asked if I would accept the position as head of the department -- the first woman to hold the job.
Waiting was worth it -- for it was learning time. What I thought was wasted time, proved to be worthwhile time affording me the experience that I found useful in subsequent positions I held in other companies.
It is this important life-experience which brings us to the life of Elijah, God’s mouthpiece during a desperately wicked time in Israel’s history. Instead of doing what you and I might think would be the natural thing and have Elijah travel throughout the country holding revival meetings calling the nation back to God -- God chose to send Elijah to a hiding place alone in the mountains, where he sat by a little brook that provided his water and where he received meat from ravens for his meals. If I’d been in Elijah’s place, I wonder what thoughts would have gone through my mind. I know I would have wondered, “Why did God choose to side-line me now? What in the world am I supposed to learn from this desperately, desolate place? How can anything useful come from the time I’m wasting here by this brook?”
Here’s how biographer F. W. Krummacher describes the situation Elijah found himself in:
“O look! There sits the man of God! Here is his appointed dwelling: the blue sky his roof, the bare rocks his walls, the stone his seat, the shady wood his bed-chamber, the grass his couch; his company, the purling brook, and the hoarse ravens aloft among the trees. There he sits in his hairy mantle, silent and reflecting; and whenever solitude becomes wearisome, or the hissing of serpents or the distant roar of the lion would inject terror into his soul, he remembers, ‘I am imprisoned here for the Lord’s sake, and His footsteps are among these rocks;’ and thus by faith and hope he regains courage.”
This is the story for any one of us who finds herself in the valley of a waiting time. Those moments in our lives when everything seems on hold. When a confusing journey makes every footstep seem misplaced.
For Moses, the waiting time was a forty year stint in Midian’s desert wilderness herding sheep. A time when a former prince of Egypt probably felt that due to his own rash action, nothing in his future mattered much at all --just the hum-drum day-to-day activity of wilderness wandering. For Jesus, the loneliness of a familiar garden proved to be a waiting time which had eternal consequences. As W. H.Vanstone explains, “(Jesus) went to the Garden of Gethsemane to wait upon the outcome.” Vanstone continues with this pointed observation: “Waiting can be the most intense and poignant of all human experiences -- the experience which, above all others, strips us of our needs, our values and ourselves.”
It is at this point of barrenness where our total dependency on our heavenly Father’s care develops into a trust that holds us tightly within His bosom.
Ben Patterson, author of the book, Waiting, describes life’s “waiting times” in this manner: “The paradoxical journey of waiting, moving from the known to the unknown, the seen to the unseen of God’s future, will have some terrifying moments in it. Ease and predictability are not among God’s promises. But as we wait, as we journey, we will find ourselves clinging to God as never before, and listening for His voice as if our life depended on it! That in itself, makes the waiting worth the while.”
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome explained that “even the whole creation (all nature) waits expectantly and earnestly” for the day when we will all be free and loosened from the bondage of this time of waiting:
“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.”
Romans 8: 19-25
What a blessed day that will be -- when our waiting will be over – forever!
“We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the cold and dark. Wait, and He will come. He never comes to those who do not wait.”
Frederick Wm Faber
“You keep us waiting.
You the God of all time, want us to wait for the right time in which to discover who we are, where we must go, who will be with us, and what we must do. So thank You…for the waiting time.
You keep us looking. You, the God of all space, want us to look in the right and wrong places for signs of hope, for people who are hopeless, for visions of a better world that will appear among the disappointments of the world we know. So thank You…for the looking time.
You keep us loving.
You, the God whose name is love, want us to be like you – to love the loveless and the unlovely and the unlovable; to love without jealousy or design or threat; and most difficult of all, to love ourselves. So thank You…for the loving time.
And in all this, You keep us, through hard questions with no easy answers; through failing where we hoped to succeed and making an impact when we felt we were useless; through the patience and the dreams and the love of others; and through Jesus Christ and His Spirit, You keep us. So thank You…for the keeping time, and for now, and for ever. Amen ”
Iona Community, Scotland
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.