Hello there, Sarah the Frase here, reporting to you from the land of epiphanies.
I used to believe that “good things come to those who wait.”
I am a waiter. I am Viola, in that I have sat like patience on a monument smiling at grief again and again in my life (that’s Shakespeare folks). Why? I could say spiritual maturity or some kind of innate hard wiring is at work, but those aren’t the only reasons. I have waited much of my life because I placed faith in that colloquial saying above; a saying that is so ridiculous if I were read on the inside of a greeting card would throw the card away as the kind of inflammatory sentimental bunk I just can’t afford to keep around the house.
It’s not that I am an abject pessimist for the future. Here’s where this saying falls down for me: I believe in God.
And the God I believe in, while He is the poster boy for patience and long-suffering, does not give good things to those who wait. “Ah, but what about Joseph?” You Bible readers ask. “What about Ruth, or even Israel, and the prophets? I’m pretty sure they waited for the Messiah and He came, so you’ve got this one all wrong Frase.” Yes, those examples are all true. There is no better personification of good than Jesus. But He didn’t come because they waited for Him. He came to glorify His name and to save, not because there were people waiting for reconciliation from God.
God is not transactional. He is not even a capitalist. (sorry America)
What I have repeated to myself as a proverb, and used as a promise, trying to earn me some future good by long hours of waiting has zero effect on reality and fails to see God.
Good things don’t come to those who wait. He gives good.
God’s love is active, gratuitous, and constant. I wait for “good” but I am really bargaining for what I have called good, holding out for it with my hands and eyes clenched shut so tight I can’t receive any of the good He has for me now.
I am guilty of rushing into the future in my head as a way of coping with the present. When I do this I ignore Him and I rob myself of the hearty good of now. I want eyes like Caleb and Joshua, to see the plunderous extravagant good in the land today. This is time for hearing the word of the Lord, not for waiting with a telescopic heart.
God gives pain to those who wait. He gives joy, frustration, grief, discomfort, peace, vulnerability, and brokenness. These too are good.
When I receive the good He has for me now I am still looking forward, anticipating a future healing and wholeness, and I am also participating in it now. I dream of Revelation 20-22 and rejoice that it is closer to me even this second than it was before. This desire is not wrong, where I err is when I allow that longing to cost me the present.
If I desire to wait, if I am called to wait, it is better to ask myself: What is here where I am waiting? What does God have for me in this season and today and in the next twenty minutes?
Let me receive it. Let me learn better what it means to attend Him. Let me begin to truly wait upon the Lord.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17