My last post was about the fact that sometimes in life, willingness is more important than readiness. That we should not wait for the perfect time to begin. There will always be a reason why we should wait, some better hypothetical moment in the future, some cause for delay. Don’t wait! Jump in! Get started!
But what about times when we are willing, but we still have to wait?
I grew up in Sunday School. If you did too, you probably heard the lesson that says God answers prayer one of three ways:
As a kid, I definitely understood the first two, but the third was somewhat mysterious. If the answer is going to be “yes”, why isn’t it “yes” right now? I don’t remember what my Sunday School teachers said if and when I asked this question, but it was probably something like, “Because God has His reasons, and please sit still.”
So why do we often have to wait? More near and dear to my heart, why am I coming up on two years since God first sparked the idea of serving in Ireland, and yet we’re still here? There are a number of good answers in Scripture. Galatians 5 says that patience is something that will naturally result from God’s sanctifying work in our lives. Maybe waiting is to help us develop patience. Romans 5 says endurance produces character which in turn produces hope that is not put to shame. Maybe waiting is for the sake of endurance. Philippians 1 says that God’s work in each life will be brought to completion over time. Patience. Character. Hope. Completion. Surely a little waiting is worth it for these things.
But is it true? What have I seen in my life over the past two years? Well, while I don’t claim to know the mind of God (I barely know my own mind most of the time), I can see growth. It may surprise some (none) of you to know this, but I have never actually been perfect. I’ve been good – had a good marriage, a good thought life, a good walk. But good, as Earl Thomas Conley said, ain’t good enough. And so there have been multiple areas in my life over the past two years that have been areas of growth for me.
Now, “areas of growth” sounds like a very positive and exciting thing. Maybe it’s better to call them areas under construction. Areas needing surgery. Areas to be amputated. Wrong thinking, wrong words, and wrong actions that needed to be ripped from my life. Some that I knew were wrong and just didn’t feel I could deal with. Some I didn’t realize or maybe fooled myself into overlooking. There were (and still are) painful days and nights working through it all. Painful for me and for others around me. Perfect? Not hardly.
The Christian walk is often compared to a refining process, which again sounds really cool. But I would humbly submit that the lump of gold doesn’t enjoy being melted and refined, the steel doesn’t appreciate the polishing wheel, and the road doesn’t have a lot of fun being cut from the rough ground. But the process of becoming more and more the person I’ve been created to be is unbelievably encouraging. And the hope of righteousness is no less relevant today than at the beginning of the road:
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
– 1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
Are we willing? Yes. Are we ready? Maybe, maybe not. Are we willing to be made ready as we wait? I am. Are you?