In Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, there’s a scene where Qui-Gon Jinn is facing off against Darth Maul in a lightsaber battle. While they are fighting, they get separated by a set of panels (or, as my son described them, “laser doors”), which open and close at timed intervals.
While the path is blocked, the Jedi (Qui-Gon Jinn) pauses and meditates. He doesn’t pace around, hurl insults at his opponent, or practice swinging his weapon. (He also doesn’t run away, which some of us might have used that opportunity to do.) He rests quietly – regaining his focus, I suppose – and prepares for the inevitable battle that will resume when the doors open again at the end of their current cycle.
Often, waiting isn’t normal for us. Runners and racecar drivers keep moving during breaks, never letting the soles of their shoes or their tires cool down. The rest of us get impatient waiting for a call or text (or for gamers, during loading screens).
However, waiting is definitely appropriate at certain times for those who follow Jesus. I’m not talking about waiting in line, or waiting at a stoplight, but rather waiting for God to do His work:
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 NLT
In the King James Version, from which I think that many people have memorized this passage, this verse includes the phrase, “wait upon the LORD”. How many times has our trust in God required us to wait for Him? How much trust does it take to not jump in and take action on something that we want to change, but which we should leave to God instead (like taking revenge, making unwise investments of our time and money, or speaking our mind out of turn)?
Abraham didn’t wait on God’s promise (see Genesis 16), and created centuries of conflict between the descendants of his two sons. Moses didn’t wait for God to bring water from a rock, and hit it (possibly to get the credit for himself, I suppose – see Numbers 20:1-13). Many others have rushed into situations where God could have taken care of things if they were willing to wait.
But, maybe that’s the test of our faith. Do we really trust God’s promises that things will work out, that eternity will make up for earth’s sorrows, and that righteousness will triumph over evil? Do we believe that He will avenge wrongdoing? Do we know that He wants to see people saved from the consequences of their sins even more than we do?
Faith without works is dead (see James 2:17). If we say that we believe God is able to take care of things, and that His wisdom and timing are perfect, but we still jump in and try to do His work for Him when we think that He’s taking too long, do we really have a living faith?
Of course, waiting isn’t an excuse for inaction, either. I like how the Teacher put it in the book of Ecclesiastes:
Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.
If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.
Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT
The difference between when it’s time to wait and when it’s time to go is found in the first passage, above: We wait on the Lord. In the same way as we wait on God, we live and act for Him, too. His direction – both when He calls us to wait and when He calls us to move – is perfect. Listening for that guidance can be a challenge, but even listening to God works best when we…what? When we wait, of course!
If we take the time (in-between God’s calls to act) to meditate on His word, focus on His leading, and prepare for the next battle, our results will be far better than the fate of the Jedi described above.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.