Years ago, I spent a couple of days working on a road construction crew. Going into this temporary job, I wrestled with a couple of preconceived ideas about road construction workers. First, from what I could tell, most of the crew stood around and watched one member do all the work. The second bias was similar to the first one: they didn’t work hard.
Well, the day arrived for me to join the work crew. We hopped into a pickup truck and drove to our destination. After the truck dropped us off we looked at each other for a moment. The crew leader wasn’t doing anything. So, I asked him, “What do you we do now?”
“We wait,” he replied as he prepared a comfortable spot for himself on the grass.
“We wait? I asked. I couldn’t hide the astonishment in my voice.
“Yes, we wait.”
So, I joined my boss and watched the drivers whiz by giving me the same incredulous looks that I had given road construction workers in the past.
Yet my experience gave me a deep spiritual insight into the ways of God.
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INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Isaiah 62:6-65:25. “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them” (Isaiah 63:10). “Rebellion” and “grieving the Holy Spirit” aren’t identical in meaning, but they do give us an insight into what grieves the Holy Spirit. The word “grieving” in this passage means to grow tired or weary. When we rebel against God, he grows tired of the push and pull. Obviously he doesn’t grow physically tired, but he stops fighting us.
Philippians 2:19-3:3. Paul warns the Philippians to beware of the “mutilators of the flesh” (Philippians 3:2), people who claimed that men must be circumcised in order to be in good standing with God. Instead, Paul says, the people who are truly circumcised are the ones who “worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). In other words, God’s chosen people are those place all their hope in Jesus to save them and make them right with God.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
After spending a couple of days working on the road construction crew, I realized why I so often see them standing around.
While sitting on the grass next to my supervisor, I finally asked him, “Why are we waiting?”
“We can’t do any work until the shipment of asphalt arrives,” he told me.
Imagine how we would have looked if our crew had tried to patch a road without any asphalt? Not only would we have looked like fools, but it would have been a complete waste of time.
Yet many people do that every day.
The prophet Isaiah prayed, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4 italics added).
I don’t know about you, but when I encounter a closed door in my life, I tend to do everything in my power to knock it down. I’m not good at waiting. In the end, I look like a road construction worker laboring without any asphalt.
Impatience reveals our lack of faith in God. In my past, I accepted job offers because I was too impatient—too short on faith, really—to wait for the right job to open up. In the end, I regretted my choice.
At the same time, waiting isn’t the same thing as laziness. The word means “earnest expectation and confident hope.”
In the next month or so, our church will be launching a mentoring ministry that will focus on fatherless teens who attend the high school where we meet. When we hatched the idea a year ago, we had no one to direct the ministry. We’re a small church plant, so we didn’t have many people to choose from. But I’ll admit, I was tempted to volunteer myself. My lack of faith nearly led me to take on a time commitment that would have either doomed our mentoring ministry or severely impaired church. I didn’t have the bandwidth to pastor a church, write, and lead a mentoring ministry without one of those areas suffering greatly.
So what happened?
A couple of months later, a couple began attending our church—and the wife had 15 years of experience as a youth pastor. Not only that, but her kids graduated from the same high school where we meet. When I asked her to lead the mentoring ministry, her eyes lit up and she nearly said “yes” on the spot.
So Lynn has taken the bull by the horns and is doing a better job of organizing the ministry than I ever could.
But it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t waited.
What is God calling you to wait on?
What spoke to you in today’s reading?
Do you struggle waiting on God? Why?
What is God wanting you to wait on?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.