You’re not unfamiliar with waiting, and you’ve been reading about it all week. But just in case you’re feeling foggy this Sunday morning let me refresh you: Merriam-Webster defines waiting as the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or event.
When I reflect on periods of “waiting” in my life, I see a variety of shades – different tones to the same base coat of waiting if you will. Throughout 2017, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the life of Moses. I was pleasantly surprised to find this same spectrum of waiting in his life. In fact, this process of “delaying action or staying where one is” was used to mature, grow, and ultimately sanctify our Biblical hero. And if it worked for him well, then count me in!
Waiting… the fearful tension.
“One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, ‘Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?’
The man said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid and thought, ‘What I did must have become known.’
When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian…” Exodus 2:11-15
This is a dark shade of waiting. I called this aspect of waiting the fearful tension because it is a season of distracted and contorted living as you are busy looking over your shoulder every day.
Poor Moses, he was scared. He had messed up, he was on the run, and he knew Pharaoh was out to get him. This also reflects a time of less spiritual maturity in Moses’s life. Remember, Moses was given to his mother, a Hebrew, until he was completely weaned. His mother would have used those years to teach him everything she could about the one true God so that Moses would know who the LORD was. But here he was stressed and scared and we don’t see him seeking the LORD. He was taking life, day by day, dependent on his strength alone as he waited for the outraged king of Egypt to die.
I hate to admit it friends, but I too have had a season of this putrid waiting. It is NOT a season I am proud of, but full disclosure demands that I share. It was during my first few years of private practice. I was finally done with the 24 years of required education and professional training (yep, 24) and I had a job, a real job!! You would think I was dancing in the streets, but instead I was living scared, tense, and figuratively looking over my shoulder every day.
You see, I was mean in residency. I was overworked, overtired, and easily influenced by the culture of my surroundings instead of the convictions of my heart. I, like Moses, knew the LORD and had a true foundation of Jesus in my soul. I didn’t look to Him, however, for my direction or wisdom and I was an awful, awful person (I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not… let’s just leave it at that.)
So, I was able to “run away” to my version Midian, which was private practice. I finally had the time to pray, SLEEP, and genuinely repent for who I had been. The only problem was that I took a job in the same city as my residency. What if my past caught up with me?
I remember the day a patient walked into the room, the wife of a medical student I had supervised in residency, and I thought to myself, “Oh no, why is she here? Didn’t he tell her how awful I was? Is she here to yell at me?” As it turned out, no. She didn’t yell at me, in fact – she was lovely. God truly did a redemptive work in my life, and for that I am eternally grateful!
Waiting… the excited anticipation.
“Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
‘I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.
In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
You will bring them in and plant them
on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling,
the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.
The Lord reigns
for ever and ever.’”
Exodus 15: 1-18
This is my favorite hue of waiting, a bright shade of light. I called this the excited anticipation, because it is a season of hopeful longing for what is to come.
Moses and the Israelites saw their enemy hurled into the sea, LITERALLY. They had tasted and seen the goodness of the LORD. The LORD had been their light, their defender, their provider, and their way-maker. They were compelled to erupt into thankful dancing and singing.
This is also a season of healthy reliance on the LORD in Moses’s life. He heard from the LORD in the burning bush and he obeyed. He went before Pharaoh, day after day (and plague after plague), delivering the messages of the one true God. Moses knew God’s voice, trusted His plans, and submitted his life to that end alone. He wasn’t sure where they were headed next but he was confident in who held their days.
I am blessed to admit this shade of waiting summarizes how I live most of my life now…
I know Jesus as my light, defender, provider, and my perfect way-maker. I believe He has plans and purposes for me and I trust that His ways are higher than my ways.
I am only able to bask in this dimension of waiting, however, because of my healthy dependence on the LORD. It is the LORD and Him alone that motivates my life of dancing and singing His praises.
I work in one of the poorest regions in the world.
I have delivered more terminal diagnoses here in 6 years than most doctors will in their entire careers.
But I choose to wait for the same deliverance promised to Moses and the Israelites that is available to each and every one of us still today, He is coming my friends. HE IS COMING…
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”