Friday, April 16, 2010

A Ridiculous Amount of Patience: Waiting on God

Numbers 9: 19-22
When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD's order and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the LORD's command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 

Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out.

I almost have to laugh when I read this passage.  Let me explain.  Here they are, millions of men, women and children journeying on foot to an unknown land.  They had just escaped the slavery of Egypt, and were on their way to the "promised land".  There was something fantastic coming up ahead...God had promised it to those who followed Him.

You see, I laugh because the process of getting to this land must have taken a ridiculous amount of patience, and I myself am hardly a fan of the word.  I like to be efficient.  I want things to be done in time.  I don't like to "sit around and wait".  There is no time for wasting, and there is definitely no time to delay.  Frankly, there is really no time for patience at all....the entire concept just takes way too long. 

The strange thing is, the part I find most challenging about this passage is not just about's about the unknown.  You see, had God given them a "set time" to wait around- say....2 days at a least that would have given them time to plan out their patience, time to figure out what to do with their hours, time to compile a list of things to do, places to see.  But He didn't.  The waiting was completely unknown to them. 

It could have been days...months...or even years.

I guess I never comprehended the gravity of such a thing.  Imagine waiting around for something...something you expected to happen in a couple of hours or at the most, a couple of days.  Imagine having to wait for a year...maybe even two.

But even more than the wait, imagine being at a place of utter obedience.  A place in life that is so completely reliant on God that you don't even bat an eye at the wait...because you trust Him.  Imagine having the amount of patience that sets aside your own agendas and plans...your own time-frame, in exchange for the greatest gift of all:  God's perfect will.

In my opinion, we could all use a good dose of ridiculous patience.  We've all waited on God to do things our way, trying to get through the waiting, as if it were a means to an end.  But imagine the waiting was the end.  Imagine the purpose of the delay was simply that- to take our focus off the end result and exchange it for a focus on Him.  To take our vision off the destination and allow our eyes to rest only on the Guide.  I believe that may just be the purpose of waiting...the purpose of developing patience.  

When I read this passage, that's what I see.  The Israelites were forced to exchange their focus from the preoccupation of the destination to the preoccupation with the Guide.  Everyday, it was the Cloud that guided them- and it was the Cloud of God's Spirit that ultimately won their attention...minute by minute, hour by hour.  Their eyes were fixed on Him. 

I want to see the periods of waiting in my life as more than simply time to kill.  I want to learn to see patience as the path that takes my focus on the natural and allows it to rest on the supernatural.  I want to allow God to use my time of waiting as a season to fix my eyes thoroughly on Him rather than simply getting "through".  I want God to grant me a ridiculous patience that is ultimately more concerned with the Guide than the destination.

Lord, grant us true patience as we rest in your perfect will.


  1. Debra,

    Sorry about how long it has been since I last commented.

    Thank you for this post. Patience is something I have been learning a lot about latly and you certainly have helped reinforce what is so easily pushed to the back. Thank you for the reminders...thank you for sharing truth!

    I hope all is very well in your world!

  2. Brad, good to hear from you again! Thanks for taking the time to read this post...I've been slowing down on the posting, but I'm going to try to get more disciplined again here soon:) Thanks for your constant encouragement....God Bless!!

  3. Hi Deb,

    I read your post on our stay-at-home mom "house arrest", which I really enjoyed but was led to this post on patience. I feel I have a much greater need for patience as a mom.

    I guess I'm what you call a "type A" personality and having children throws all my detailed planning out the window. Not to mention the fact that I have to daily remind myself that my life is Christ's and His will be done, not mine, so things will be done as He sees fit on His time frame. It was encouraging to read your post reinforcing this fact and that I don't want to wish away my time or get "through" a season of my life especially while my children are growing so quickly - time I'll never get back. Thank you for reminding me that God has a wonderful plan for my life and that He is fully in charge!

    Looking forward to getting to know you better at mops!

  4. Jess, what an awesome challenge you post. You're right, we really have to trust God as parents, rather than our schedules and plans. It's a good reminder. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jess, and I look forward to getting to know you better as well!!


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