“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” – Psalm 37:7
Waiting patiently has never been one of my greatest strengths. Example: back in the mid-1980’s when I was in my mid-thirties my career was really starting to take off. Because of that I had become pretty full of myself, and impatient that it was not rising even faster. So, like any good red-blooded ambitious young man I took matters in my own hands to speed up the process, pouncing on the first opportunity that came my way. But instead of advancing my career, I almost wrecked it. Worse, I had relocated my family to another city which was unsettling to them, compounding the near disastrous outcome that could only be blamed on my lack of patience.
Over the years, however, I have found some consolation in realizing I’m not the only person to jump the gun, taking matters into my own hands. Remember the Biblical story about Sarah and Abraham who remained childless well into their old age? Yet God had promised they would produce offspring. But when? Sarah, after all, had long passed childbearing age. So, what did they do? They took matters into their own hands, Abraham fathering a child through Sarah’s maidservant Hagar, a boy named Ishmael. As with me, they had jumped the gun; for that was not what God intended.
Fortunately, by the grace of God and despite our taking matters into our own hands, God still delivered on his promise to Abraham and Sarah, and to me and my family; for Sarah did eventually conceive and bear them their long-awaited son Isaac, and good fortune came our way through a dream job I was offered back at my old firm. How many people, I wonder, make the same mistake we did, leaving the dock just before our ship came in?
As we approach Christmas, amidst all the hustle and bustle we would do well to remember that this is a time for waiting patiently; for it is not inconsequential that God used a mother’s womb and the human gestation period as the delivery method for sending His Son to earth; for such a process, as we all know, cannot be hastened by taking matters into our own hands. Rather, it requires that we “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” That’s why we Christians refer to the season leading up to Christmas as Advent, a time for waiting patiently, anticipating the arrival of our Lord. . . . Although waiting patiently is still not one of my greatest strengths, I am getting better.