by Calven Celliers
Not long before his death in 1996, Henri Nouwen wrote a book called Sabbatical Journeys, in which he wrote about some friends of his who were trapeze artists. They told Nouwen that there is a special relationship between the flyer and the catcher on the trapeze. This relationship is governed by important rules, such as: The flyer is the one who lets go, and the catcher is the one who catches. As the flyer swings on the trapeze high above the crowd, the moment comes when he must let go. He flings his body out in mid-air. His job is to keep flying and to wait for the strong hands of the catcher to take hold of him at just the right moment. The flyer must never try to catch the catcher.” The flyer’s job is to wait in absolute trust. The catcher will catch him, but he must wait.
“Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about Him for whom we are waiting. Waiting is not a static state, it is a time when God is working behind the scenes, and the primary focus of His work is on us.” (Henri Nouwen)
I love the way the late Eugene Petersen paraphrases the words of the apostle Paul to the Romans, in The Message saying, “24 & 25 …waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (Romans 8: 24 & 25TheMessage)
The hardest part of living by faith is waiting on God. We want God to act swiftly and decisively. We don’t want God to work behind the scenes; we want to see what He is doing so that we can be confident in what He is doing. Our natural human reaction when God doesn’t act according to our ideas is that we want to take matters into our own hands. As we see time ticking away, we grow more and more impatient. When time seems against us, His promises begin to look impossible. We feel like we have to act now or miss out. When people feel like they will miss out, they react and interfere with God’s intended purpose. We try to put ‘legs on our prayers’.
So, what is it that God wants to do in us during these periods of waiting? The prophet Isaiah says, “31 But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31NKJV)
THOSE WHO WAIT ON THE LORD WILL HAVE INWARD STRENGTH:
The people in Isaiah’s day were in captivity, they needed inward strength to give them power over temptation. As Christians God wants us to rely on Him, whatever we are doing. As we look to Him, He will give us the strength to continue when we are tempted to give in. There are times when we want to throw in the towel, yet when we look to our Lord, Scripture assures us He will renew our strength. The God on the mountain, is still God in the valley.
THOSE WHO WAIT ON THE LORD WILL HAVE UPWARD STRENGTH:
There are many ups and downs in this life, but God will give us victory over the downs if we focus on Him. While Peter’s mind was focused on Jesus, he was empowered to walk on the water. But when his focus was on the storm, his fear short circuited his ability to receive God’s sustaining power and he began to sink. Everything hinged on whether he focused on the Saviour or on the storm. Where’s your focus as you wait on God?
THOSE WHO WAIT ON THE LORD WILL HAVE OUTWARD STRENGTH:
I have personally ministered to people who, while waiting on the Lord, have been not only been tempted, but have actually quit the Lord’s work. They become weary and discouraged because of their circumstances and as a result have bailed out on God. God expects us to be faithful, which literally means full of faith, faith that completely trusts and depends on Him. It is active faith, not passive faith. It is a faith that delights in doing the Master’s will. It is love that results in action. It is a faith that keeps doing the right thing even when the waiting becomes long. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that, “11 …The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race…” (Ecclesiastes 9:11NLT) The race is won by those who have learned to endure; who wait with patience; who wait expectantly; and who live in faithfulness to God.
Waiting is an art, and God’s timing is everything.