How can I possibly wait on God? Why do you call it “Wait Time”?
Once I was visiting with a friend about the time we spend waiting on God, and I thought I would try to be more efficient with my words, so, I started calling it ‘wait time’. But, this only confused her, and she stopped me and said, “Jan, I don’t know what ‘wait time’ is?” So, I apologized and gave her a full definition of what I mean when I use the term ‘wait time’.
Wait time: the time we spend waiting on God to do what he promised he would do.
Sometimes our wait time is short and sometimes it can be extremely long. Theologians often refer to this principle as, “the already, but not yet”. Jesus has said it will happen and it will, but it is not completely here yet. So, it is the already, but not yet. Waiting on God will call for us to exercise our faith.
In Luke 19:11-26 Jesus tells the crowd a parable about our wait time. He tells the parable because they are making some crazy assumptions based on their desires. They supposed Jesus was going to Jerusalem to become a political Messiah who would overthrow Rome and set up an earthly kingdom in Israel. Unfortunately, what they wanted to happen in Jerusalem was not what God had planned. Look at Luke 19:11.
11) As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. ESV
- While waiting on God we can learn his thoughts are not always our thoughts.
What Jesus had planned in Jerusalem was greater than him overthrowing Rome. It was greater than him making Israel a military power house again. It was greater than him being crowned an earthly king at that very moment. Jesus’ plan was to reconcile the world unto himself.
In Isaiah 55:8-9 God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ESV
One of the most valuable things we might learn during our own wait time is that God has a completely different agenda than we do. When we can embrace this truth, our timeout can become truly productive.
Let’s start looking at this parable he told in Luke 19:12-26 as it explains the importance of our wait time.
12) He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13) Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14) But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15) When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. ESV
There are two separate groups of people revealed in this passage, the citizens of community and his working servants. The nobleman is Jesus, but the citizens do not want Jesus to be their king. The servants in the parable represents the Christ followers who have chosen Jesus to be their ruler.
- While waiting on God we can learn to value what he grows in us.
Wait time will transform us if we allow it to. How so? The Bible says that faith the size of a mustard seed is all we need to move a mountain. While Jesus lingers our tiny faith often germinates, enlarging and expanding our vision. As an example, in this time of waiting through this deadly Covid 19, the necessity of social distancing or quarantining might even quiet us and activate our ability to hear God speak. Jesus will never waste a moment we spend desiring his return.
Our own impatience will never shorten this season, and it might make us squander our many opportunities to spiritually grow. God cares about how we experience this time, not in some harsh way. He loves us and is on our side. He wants us to taste of his goodness. Are we ready to grow to a new level?
Before we return to the parable in Luke 19 I need to make some observations. It is important to remember that in this parable the 10 servants are given the exact same amount of money, one mina. What sets these servants apart from each other is how they think about God. This parable is often called the parable of the ten minas. At the time of Christ a mina was the wage a laborer could earn in three months of employment. For example, the current minimum wage in Tucson, Arizona is set at $12.00 an hour. So, today in Tucson, before taxes, a mina would be worth about $5,760. As we can see while this is not a small sum of money, it isn’t a huge amount either. Ironically, it is how the servants view God’s character that will determine the usefulness of their wait time.
16) The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17) And he said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18) And the second came saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19) And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20) Then another came, saying, ‘Lord here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21) for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22) He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23) Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?” And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25) And they said to him, “Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26) ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’” ESV
Have we been tempted, like the third servant, to believe God is asking something from us that is just too hard? This attitude is a slippery slope and something Jesus wanted to protect us from.
- While waiting on God we can learn he is not harsh or severe.
This parable in Luke 19 links how we view God with the success of our wait time. Remember the definition of ‘wait time’ is the time we spend waiting on God to accomplish what he promises he will do. How do we use that time? Do we accuse God of being harsh or mean? Can we still believe he is good while we wait on his promises? Sadly, while the third servant in this parable was a believer and he never took part in any rebellion against Jesus’ rule, he did not know the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. And, so he was reproved by his own viewpoint of God. Jesus is not a harsh or a severe ruler. Instead, he is vividly illustrating how our thoughts about God will eventually play out.
How do we respond to life’s ups and downs? Do we accuse God of being unfair when something happens we don’t understand? To multiply our minas’ we must be servants who will believe in the certainty of God’s goodness. This truth will allow us to adjust our reasoning quickly even when the circumstances are not to our liking or something we had planned on. Our God is holy and righteous. Do we know this?
Take a moment now and consider what might change in our lives if we agreed with God about how he wants to use our wait time. Here are four questions to ponder to help apply these three principles.
What might be some keys to making the most of our wait time?
Trust is a big deal, with eternal benefits. In Psalm 116:5-7 the Psalmist wrote,
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. ESV
When we simply accept God’s plans he promises to preserve us. It is important and okay to be honest with God about how we are feeling, but we mustn’t continue to climb up on some merry-go-round of self-pity. God works bountifully in our lives when we humbly accept his rights over us as our ruler. Interestingly, in Hebrews 10:12-13 we find that Jesus is a savior who has personal knowledge of how hard it is to wait.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. ESV
Jesus has great empathy for us while we wait because he is waiting, too. He longs for the day his enemies will be made his footstool.
What are you waiting for that is causing you the most distress today?
Can you give that desire to Jesus?
Can you seek fellowship with Jesus now as both you and him wait for his second coming?