Sometimes, the future is so promising. We want it to come: we want to get married, have kids, go on vacation, get a job, retire from a job. Sometimes the future is so threatening. We just want to get it over with: the blind date, the doctor’s appointment, the meeting with the boss, the confrontation with a relative. Either way, waiting is hard – “the most bitter lesson a believing heart has to learn” (Michael Card).
Israel’s first king was trying to wait but he could see trouble coming—and it was getting closer. He had agreed to delay engagement in battle until the prophet Samuel arrived, but the prophet was late. The prolonged fear was getting to his men and many were going AWOL. He told himself he couldn’t wait any longer. He told himself he had to do something.
We tell ourselves the same thing. We’ve got to get out in front of this thing and take control of it! That is what King Saul did and it ruined him. He didn’t wait patiently.
But how can we wait patiently? It is so hard! The first thing we need to do is get our focus on God and remembering what he has done in the past can help with that. God ordered a yearly reenactment of his people’s deliverance from Egypt for just that reason. It helped them refocus on God. If we do not remember what God has done in the past, we won’t know what he can do in the present. We will get our eyes fixed on what is coming and forget who is coming with it.
We need faith to wait patiently. Impatience is symptom of an ailing faith. Our son Kevin went into isolation after contracting COVID-19, but he probably had it for a few days before he realized it. His first symptom was that he was more tired than usual, but he had worked out extra hard the day before and that was sufficient explanation for being tired.
Then, he developed a pretty bad headache, but that happens to everyone, so he didn’t think much of it. But when he was eating breakfast the next morning and the sausage didn’t taste right, he went over the cupboard, opened a bottle of vinegar and sniffed deeply. He couldn’t smell it. That was the give-away: he had COVID.
Anxious scrambling to get control over the future is the give-away that we suffer from a faith condition. Isaiah said, “…he who believes [in God] will not hurry” (Isaiah 30:18). Everyone else will.
When we remember what God has done in the past, we can trust him for the future. But, as Isaiah said to King Ahaz (when he was scrambling to get control over the future), “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9). We can and must look to the future but let’s not lock eyes with it. Let’s lock eyes with God.