“Wait for YHWH; wait patiently for Him.”
“You watchmen over the house of Israel, give YHWH no rest until He establishes peace for Jerusalem.”
“We yearn for You, more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
“O God, You are my God, I shall seek You early. My soul yearns for You, my body thirsts for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
A mother is cooking a dessert. Her child goes over to the oven every half-minute and asks, “Is it done yet, Mom?” In exasperation, the mother says, “Be patient!” When the dessert is removed from the oven, the child asks, “Can I eat it now?” to which the mother responds, “It has to cool still. Wait, please, will you?”
When God says, “Wait for Me,” or “Wait patiently,” He does not mean what the mother in this story means by patient or wait. She wants the child to stop pestering her. The cake is going to take so much time to cook. Then, it is going to take so much time to cool. Meanwhile, the child’s pestering is only going to annoy her, and it will not make the cake be ready to eat any sooner. She wants the child to stop caring so much about eating the cake, and instead to do something else or be interested in something else.
When God wants us to wait for Him, He wants us to look to Him continually. He wants us to not get distracted by everything else, but to remain focused on Him. He does not want us to stop caring about Him or about what we are waiting for Him to do. It is much more like the command to the watchman on the wall, to give Him no rest until He establishes the peace He has promised, but to keep crying out to Him. What He wants from us is the attitude of the watchman who is continually glancing towards the east, looking for the first signs of sunrise, or of the wanderer in the desert land who cannot stop thinking about water, cannot stop looking for any signs of real water. That is what it means to wait on God, to not grow tired of waiting for Him.
The patience God wants from His people is endurance in desire. He wants us to never quit, to never give up on looking for Him, to never give up on expecting His promises. He wants to never grow tired of wanting for Him, to never grow tired of listening for His voice or be distracted by other voices. He does not want us to be like the watchman who thinks, “This is too tiring; I will just go to sleep.” He does not want us to be a watcher on the walls who says, “I’ve called on the Lord so many times. This takes so long. He’ll never establish peace for us,” or a watcher who says, “Someday, the Lord will establish peace. It doesn’t matter whether I call out to Him or not. I’ll just stretch out and relax. I’m so tired.” Rather, God wants us to endure in watching for Him, looking for Him. He wants us to, as people commonly say, “not be able to wait” for Him. In reality, this is true waiting. What is often called “waiting” would be better called “not caring” or “complacency.”
When you don’t understand something, when you don’t know something – even if it is something about God or His commands that you don’t know or understand – He wants you to wait for Him to reveal it to you. He wants us not to go looking for other men, or for our own minds and reason, to explain it to us. Even if what you learn from other men or from your own mind is so-called “correct,” it is no substitute for knowledge personally given by God, and, apart from a miracle of Divine grace, will make it impossible for you to recognize it when God gives you His knowledge, His Divine light on the matter. God wants us to know Him; not so much to know about Him. We must wait earnestly for Him to reveal Himself to us, and not try to replace personal knowledge of Him with knowledge about Him or make up for a lack of personal knowledge of Him with knowledge about Him. If you know more about God than you know Him, it make it harder for you to know Him for Himself, and not confuse your distant knowledge about Him with intimate, close knowledge of Him. God does not want any of His children to settle for less than intimate, direct knowledge of Him. He is our Father: He reveals Himself to us as a Father to His children: not a distant, aloof Father, but a tender, ever-present, compassionate Father, eager to share Himself with His children.
When God leads you through a lack of knowledge, where you do not understand, wait earnestly for Him, and Him alone. Do not grow weary of waiting on Him and so try to satisfy your lack of understanding with something less than immediate, direct revelation and knowledge of God. It may be that God intends to reveal Himself to you in the closest, most intimate way, and you would not be able to see Him if you were distracted by knowing something about Him or understanding something about what He is doing in your life (or the life of someone else). Maybe the very lack of knowledge and understanding is the gate through which God will reveal Himself to you, as He did to Job – to whom He gave no answers as to why He did as He did, but only revelation of His glory. Ask Him for knowledge and understanding, if you will – unless He tells you not to – but do not seek it anywhere else.
God wants you to know Him, to know Jesus Himself. After all, Jesus is His Son and the radiance of His glory, in whose image we were created, and salvation is the conformity to His likeness. You can never know or understand everything about God or His commands. He is infinite: you are finite. Do not expect other Christians to know everything you do, nor yourself to know everything other Christians do. Perhaps, you struggle with fear of persecution and have often been afraid: you know that God said, “Do not fear: I will be with you!” and you know that fear is a horrendous and evil sin, and you may not see how anyone can not understand that fear is one of the most disgusting sins ever: do not expect everyone else to know this, and, above all, do not expect Christians who do not struggle with fear and have rarely, if ever, been afraid to know this. The same goes for any other sin and any other command of God. Perhaps, someone else knows that lying is always wrong, and cannot see how any sin could be worse than even a so-called white lie, and maybe this person does not see how you could possibly not know this, yet you do not: wait for God to tell you.* The most important thing – for you, and for each of us – is to know God personally. If our knowledge of anything – including what is sin and what is not sin – does not flow from a direct knowledge of the character of God as revealed in Jesus Christ our God, then we should throw that knowledge into the sewer. Nor is it a sin or a sin of spiritual immaturity if you do not know something – yes, even about the Trinity or the Incarnation – that others know, or that every other Christian appears to know. None of us can know everything about God! Let Him reveal Himself to you in ways He does not reveal Himself to others, and do not be upset when He reveals Himself to others in ways He has not revealed Himself to you. In all things, what matters is a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Living Lord, the Risen Savior, God become Man, crucified for sins, alive in glory. He alone is the Rock. Knowledge of Him is eternal life. Nothing else matters.
“O God, You are my God. I will seek You early. My heart yearns for You, my body thirsts for You. In a dry and weary land where there is no water: thus have I seen You in the sanctuary, to behold You in Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will bless You. I will praise You as long as I live and in Your Name I will lift up My hands. Because You have satisfied my soul as with marrow and fatness, therefore with singing lips my mouth will bless You. When I lie on my bed, I meditate on You through the watches of the night. For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings my soul sings for joy. I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me.”
Copyright 2019 Raina Nightingale
*I do know and feel that fear is a horrendous, evil, abominable, disgusting sin, an insult of God, and incredibly evil. I do not have such a knowledge of the evil of lying, though, by the merciful grace of God, I will never lie about anything.