Today we come to the last post in the series on Waiting. Thank you to everyone who has read along and commented. I had no fixed plan for the series when I began, so it has been interesting to see the direction it has taken. There has been some great discussion and I think it is a topic that has resonated with a lot of people.
We’ve thought about several different people from the Bible and explored how they responded during their times of waiting. Some dealt with these times well, others not so well.
To finish the series I want to think about two of my waiting heroes- two people whose example I want to follow as I wait.
The first is Caleb. We first encounter him in Numbers 13 when he is chosen as one of the twelve spies sent to explore the Promised Land. Ten of the spies return full of fear, doubting their ability to take the land God has promised, but Caleb’s response is different:
“Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it.”” (Numbers 13:30 NLT)
Caleb doesn’t want to wait; he wants to go now. And why should he wait? The Israelites have already had a long journey to the land. Now they are finally there, and he is ready to step into all that God has promised. He and Joshua try to persuade the others that it will be okay- God is with them and he will help them take the land- but the people refuse to listen, and even begin to talk about stoning them.
Angry at their lack of faith, God tells the Israelites to turn around and head back in the direction they came from. They will have to wander in the wilderness for forty years before they get to enter the land. In fact, by that time the Israelites who are adults now will have died. The only ones who will enter the land are Joshua and Caleb.
I feel for Caleb. God had led him there and he was ready to go. Now, through no fault of his own, he has to wait forty years. How frustrating that must have been!
The Bible doesn’t mention much about Caleb during these forty years so we don’t know how he coped with the wait, but when he does appear again it is obvious that he has waited well.
The Israelites eventually enter the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership. They cross the River Jordan, conquer Jericho and defeat several other tribes to take large parts of the land.
Finally, in Joshua 14, Caleb approaches Joshua and reminds him of the promise Moses made, that the part of the land Caleb explored all those years earlier would belong to him and his descendants.
I just love Caleb’s spirit: “Today I am 85 years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.” (Joshua 14:10-12 NLT)
The wait has done nothing to diminish either his passion to receive what he has been waiting for, or his faith in God.
My other waiting hero is someone we hear about a lot at this time of year: Simeon.
“He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.” (Luke 2:25)
By this time the people had been waiting for hundreds of years for the Messiah, so I love that Simeon was still waiting eagerly. It’s hard to maintain that attitude when our wait is long, but Simeon shows that it is possible. And he got his reward: the Holy Spirit revealed to him that he would not die until he saw the Messiah, and finally the day came when his wait was over- he held the Saviour in his arms and praised God.
If I could sum up what I learn from Caleb and Simeon in two words, it would be passion and patience. It is not always easy to hold the two together, but I want to follow their example of maintaining passion for God and the dreams he has given me, along with the patience to trust him and wait for his timing.
I want to finish this series by quoting a poem someone once gave me during a time of waiting :
Patient Trust- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Click here for an index page of all the posts in the series.