Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Counting Down the Days


We hate it.

How many of us walk back and forth at the checkout lanes at Wal-Mart hoping to find a line that is both short and quick. Who of us hasn't looked judgmentally at someone in the 20 items or less line who seems to have more than 20 items. Yes, we are not good at waiting, patience, long-suffering or anything else you might call it. 

We want it NOW, if not sooner.

The sad fact is that impatience is a universal human trait. We all share this impatience and we all display it from our earliest days. The best of us are unable to completely control our impatience and struggle to keep it under control on a daily basis. 

Think with me for a moment of two about impatience...well, actually, let's think about God's complete and perfect patience.

In Eden Adam and Eve were impatient to know things they were not ready to know. Their impatience led them to disobey God and thrust them into judgment. But God practiced patience when He didn't immediately destroy Adam and Eve at the moment of their sin but instead lovingly and patiently provided for their care and their future (Genesis 3). 

Joseph had dreams that were great and grandiose. His impatience to tell everybody about his dreams led to family strife that ultimately got Joseph sold into slavery and separated him from his family for many  long years. But God used those years to mold Joseph from young dreamer to a mature man who was able to understand the purpose of his struggles was the ultimate salvation of his own people (Genesis 38-50).

Joseph was a good man who faced a hard decision. His fiancee was found to be pregnant, and Joseph was not the father. He was within his rights to break off the engagement and to have nothing to do with Mary ever again. But God sent an angel to instruct Joseph in the wisdom of allowing God's plan to go forth and the Son of God was born (Matthew 1).

Jesus was facing the longest night of his, or anyones, life. His closest friends and followers had fallen to fatigue, leaving Jesus to struggle with the weight of the burden that he was about to bear. Yet in that dark night Jesus was given the strength to say "not My will, but Yours" and our salvation was secured (Mark 14).

Between the last words of the Old Testament and the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist (Mark 1) there are roughly 400 years in which God was quiet. Scholars call this the intertestamental period. Others call this the 400 years of silence. 

But silence does not mean inactivity. 

During this period of history God was busy. Busy protecting his people, busy preparing the world for the coming of His Son. By the time of Jesus' birth there was a common language and an empire-wide system of roads that would make possible the rapid spread of the gospel. Everything that was necessary for the proclamation of the gospel was in place when Jesus was born and it was the work of God that made it so.

You might not like waiting, but God is using that time to prepare you and those who you will come into contact with. He is placing everything for its maximum effectiveness, including you. In your waiting God is busy. When the time is right He will unleash you on a world made ready to receive His message and His messenger. 

Don't see it as waiting....see it as a countdown.

Are you ready?

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