|Waiting by Elisabeth Elliot|
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry" (Psalm 40:1, NIV).
The tests of our willingness to wait patiently for the Lord come almost daily for most of us, I suppose. Probably I am among the Lord's most impatient servants, so the lesson has to be renewed again and again. A tough test came when my daughter's family (of ten) was searching for a house. Southern California is not a place where one would wish to conduct that search. It's a long story, but at last, all other possibilities having been exhausted, a house was found, an offer made. That night word came that two other offers, of unknown amounts, had also been made. Dark pictures filled my mind: the others would surely get the house, the Shepards would be reduced to renting and we'd been told that rentals start at about $2000 per month (imagine an owner willing to rent to a family with eight children!).
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14, NIV).
I lay awake in the wee hours ("when all life's molehills become mountains" as Amy Carmichael said), repeating Scripture about God's faithfulness, trusting, casting all cares, waiting. I had to keep offering up my worries and my impatience. At four I was up reading the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham called the place where he had offered up Isaac "The Lord Will Provide." I took that as the Lord's word to me that morning.
Before nine o'clock, my son-in-law Walt called to say "Offer accepted. Other offers, both higher, turned down." No explanation. It was the Lord's doing.
Waiting requires patience--a willingness calmly to accept what we have or have not, where we are or where we wish we were, whomever we live or work with.
To want what we don't have is impatience, for one thing, and it is to mistrust God. Is He not in complete control of all circumstances, events, and conditions? If some are beyond His control, He is not God.
A spirit of resistance cannot wait on God. I believe it is this spirit which is the reason for some of our greatest sufferings. Opposing the workings of the Lord in and through our "problems" only exacerbates them. It is here and now that we must win our victories or suffer defeats. Spiritual victories are won in the quiet acceptance of ordinary events, which are God's "bright servants," standing all around us.
Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands. "Peace I leave with you; I do not give to you as the world gives" (John 14:27, NEB). What sort of peace has He to give us? A peace which was constant in the midst of ceaseless work (with few visible results), frequent interruptions, impatient demands, few physical comforts; a peace which was not destroyed by the arguments, the faithlessness, and hatred of the people. Jesus had perfect confidence in His Father, whose will He had come to accomplish. Nothing touched Him without His Father's permission. Nothing touches me without my Father's permission. Can I not then wait patiently? He will show the way.
If I am willing to be still in my Master's hand, can I not then be still in everything? He's got the whole world in His hands! Never mind whether things come from God Himself or from people-- everything comes by His ordination or permission. If I mean to be obedient and submissive to the Lord because He is my Lord, I must not forget that whatever He allows to happen becomes, for me, His will at that moment. Perhaps it is someone else's sinful action, but if God allows it to affect me, He wills it for my learning. The need to wait is, for me, a form of chastening. God has to calm me down, make me shut up and look to Him for the outcome.
His message to me every day
And this brings me to the matter of counseling. Upon our return from a trip to England I found a pile of mail, so many letters asking me what to do about things, for example: a wife's critical spirit, unemployment, a wife who has abandoned husband and children, a single mother doing a job she hates, an unfaithful husband, a woman (who tells me she is Spirit-filled) having an affair with her pastor, a farmer who'd like a wife, a mother-in-law who is nasty to her daughter-in-law, a stepson who is angry because "we don't spend enough money on his children," a wife who snaps at her husband each time he tries to snuggle up, and a husband who "drinks like a fish, curses like a sailor, and says he loves God."
I wish I could write the same letter to everybody: Wait patiently for the Lord. He will turn to you and hear your cry. It is amazing how clear things become when we are still before Him, not complaining, not insisting on quick answers, only seeking to hear His word in the stillness, and to see things in His light. Few are willing to receive that sort of reply. "Too simplistic" is the objection. One listener to my radio program, Gateway to Joy, wrote, "I got so upset at what you were saying I ripped the earphones out and aid, 'I'll do what I want to do!'" But there are those who can say, "This is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation" (Isaiah 25:9, KJV). Here are two testimonies:
"I've lost my mother, my brother, my husband, and my baby. My song is More Love to Thee, O Christ."
"God picked up the scraps and pieces and made us whole--a whole woman, a whole man, a whole marriage."