• Dwight Dunn

Waiting Well

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

April 6, 2020 From Weakness to Power, Pt 1 The pandemic presents numerous challenges to us and waiting for things to improve is one of them. Many in our western culture dislike waiting (including me). We’re accustomed to working hard to make things happen. It’s frustrating to be told that our biggest contribution to fight the coronavirus is to stay home especially when the length of our confinement seems to increase weekly. We feel helpless; we want to be empowered to make a difference - NOW. The resurrected Christ promised His followers (disciples) that He would send His Spirit (also called ‘the promise of the Father‘) to empower them for personal change and ministry to others. As a result, Jesus ‘ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father’ (Acts 1:4). Did you catch that nasty, four-lettered word: ‘wait’?

WAITING CAN BE EMPOWERING

Jesus indicates that the change from weakness to power entails waiting. ‘Are you kidding,’ we protest? Jesus had in mind a much different form of waiting (godly waiting or waiting on the Lord) than what we’re accustomed to practicing (worldly waiting). I'm convinced that much of my waiting is of the worldly variety - waiting characterized by impatience, frustration, anger, unbelief, hopelessness and a willfulness to assert my own way. No surprise I dislike waiting, huh? I'm also convinced that many of us share similar experiences about waiting. If we wish to move from weakness to power, we must realize that waiting is not a trial to endure but rather a virtue to cultivate. The disciples’ actions in Acts 1 between the time Jesus tells them to wait for the Spirit and when He sends the Spirit in Acts 2 informs us how to ‘wait on the Lord’.

Waiting is not a trial to endure but rather a virtue to cultivate.

Acts 1:12-26:

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away [according to Jewish tradition, about 0.6 miles - if you walked further, it constituted work thereby desecrating the Sabbath]. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and ‘Let another take his office.’” So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.




WAITING ON THE LORD CONSISTS OF BELIEVING & OBEYING GOD‘S WORD WHATEVER OUR CIRCUMSTANCES

Acts 1 highlights Christ’s commands, the Spirit works through the Scriptures, and we are expected to follow God’s word confidently as we await the fulfillment of His promises (verses 2, 4, 16, 20). Further, waiting on the Lord often occurs during anxious or difficult circumstances. Jesus ordered His followers not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father (1:4). At this point, Jesus’ followers were in Galilee and they would have to return to Jerusalem where they had been hiding behind locked doors in fear of the religious leaders who crucified Christ. Nonetheless, the disciples directly return to Jerusalem and Luke 24 notes that they returned with great joy. The disciples demonstrated that waiting on the Lord involves believing God’s commands are true and immediately and joyful obeying those commands despite how difficult that may be. Pastor James Boice remarks: The situations in which we learn most about obedience are those in which we cannot see why we are called to do what we are doing. If we can give a reason for what we are doing, then we are not necessarily learning obedience, at least not simple obedience. What we are really doing is trusting our ability to reason things out. We are doing what we are doing because we think it is the best thing to do. There is nothing wrong with thinking things out, of course. But it is quite another thing to learn obedience when the proscribed course does not seem the best option. If you are going through a period like that in your life, when you know what you should do but do not know why you need to do it, or if you are experiencing a delay in God’s dealings with you and it seems that you are stuck in one spot and can’t quite get off it, learn that there is valuable preparation for future work just in remaining where God has put you. The action will come later. Such obedience contrasts greatly with a worldly waiting that arises from doubt in God’s Word and manifests itself in worry, complaining, and rationalizing that our difficult circumstances relieve us from obeying God’s Word. Rather, godly waiting involves delving deeply into His Word, trusting His Word and derives confidence from it: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning” (Psalm 130:5–6 ESV).


WAITING ON THE LORD INVOLVES PRAYING IN FAITH & DEPENDENCE ON CHRIST


Acts 1 sees all of Jesus‘ followers devoting themselves to prayer and praying when they

selected Judas’ replacement (Acts 1:14, 24). Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to them so they most likely were asking the Lord to send the Spirit as Christ encouraged them to pray in Luke 11:13. ‘If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!‘ Waiting on the Lord through prayer was a practice the disciples continued throughout the book of Acts. Faith in God’s promises and dependence on Him characterize their prayer. One writer expresses the difference between worldly waiting and a godly waiting as dependence on Christ. David Henderson writes:

We see waiting in horizontal terms – a delay in our horizontal progress. We measure waiting in miles and minutes that stand between us and our goal. But waiting in the biblical perspective is vertical – depending on God in our shortfall. It is measured in terms of posture, not progress – yielding, relinquishing, trusting in Him rather than relying in ourselves. From this perspective, waiting is a strong stand of hope – the muscular confidence of faith.


Waiting is a strong stand of hope – the muscular confidence of faith


WAITING ON THE LORD INVOLVES ENGAGING WITH OTHER BELIEVERS

In Acts 1 and following, we find a community of believers vitally interacting with each other to build one another up through worship, prayer, and serving with courage and love. We need the body of Christ all the time and especially when we’re waiting on the Lord to move in our lives. Stay at home orders create challenges for us to interact with other believers but these times also impress on us how much we require the involvement of other believers as we wait on the Lord. Electronic means of contacting others can help us to engage with them until it is safe to meet in person.


WAITING ON THE LORD INVOLVES ENTRUSTING OURSELVES TO GOD’S CONTROL & SERVING HIS KINGDOM

The Lord told the disciples to wait but they weren’t idle as they waited nor did they fill their time with other pursuits. They served Christ’s kingdom by locating another apostle to replace Judas and they trusted God to show them who that would be. The group also recognized that God worked His purposes through Judas’ betrayal of Christ. Judas’ sin was his own but God even used Judas’ wicked deed to accomplish His purposes of redemption. Waiting on the Lord requires faith in God’s providence to work all things for His glory and serving His kingdom.

People are waiting for their or their loved ones‘ health to improve, work/income to resume, a sense of safety and security to return, opportunity to interact with loved ones and friends, to return to activities and routines, and not to feel so helpless. As we face many of the same concerns, we have a great opportunity to show our family and friends the difference that waiting on the Lord can make in contrast to worldly waiting. Set aside then, worldly waiting: the impatience, worrying, complaining, futility, hopelessness, and frustration. The Lord doesn’t want that for you: it doesn’t honor Him, it isn’t good for you & it certainly isn’t going to attract unbelievers to Christ. Put off that worldly waiting and put in its place the virtue of godly waiting remembering that the Lord empowers those who wait on Him:

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30–31ESV)


 

Comment below how you are waiting on the Lord during the pandemic

 

To read the other blog posts in this series click on the links below:

Sheltering in Peace

Buoyed by Hope

Glow-in-the-Dark Joy

Strength through Weakness

Delays of Love

Hoarding or Loving

Good News

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