Blog, Living in the Abundance of Christ

Forced to Linger

Do you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock and you’re stuck? Maybe it’s too many options, or none at all. Either way, you’re going along, planned or unplanned, you’re moving ahead, when you stop. You are paralyzed by indecision, fear, and feelings of inadequacies and you’re not sure which direction to move, or if you even can move.

I’m here, waiting, more often than I’d like to admit, frankly. I think long and hard before making a move, and once I start I like to keep the momentum up. Know what I mean? Because, once I lose that momentum, I get stuck. Sometimes, stuck is a good place to be. It forces me to linger.

Have you ever been waiting in a doctor’s office, and especially when it’s something unpleasant, you go in feeling quite anxious, sometimes on the verge of tears (or that could just be me), and you’re all set to fall apart as soon as the doctor enters, but you’re left to wait. And you wait, and as you wait you may start looking at your phone, or thumbing through a magazine, but eventually your waiting turns to irritation. And irritation trumps your anxiety and tears, and by the time the doctor gets in there, you just want to get straight to the point and get out. Aha! Waiting does something to us. What does it do? It depends.

Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Waiting can develop characteristics in us that we wouldn’t otherwise have, like patience, also known as long-suffering. Or we may become irritated and impatient. We may feel stuck, or like we can’t move, but even when we’re feeling like that, God is at work in us.

Do you feel like you’ve been waiting a really long time for something?

I think Moses must have felt this way too. He fled Egypt at the age of 40, and then spent 40 years in the wilderness being a shepherd.(Exodus 2, Acts 7) Moses was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, meaning he grew up in some type of palace. To go from living in a palace to living in the wilderness, being a shepherd, had to be a huge adjustment. At the age of 80, God spoke to Moses. God wanted Moses to return to Egypt and make Pharaoh release God’s people, the Israelites. Moses obeyed.

It was a span of 40 years that Moses lived in the wilderness. I wonder what he thought about during this time. I wonder if he grew impatient or if he allowed God to work things out in him. I wonder if he developed patience and long-suffering? I think he did. This isn’t the last time Moses had to wait and wander, and wonder. He was made to wander 40 years in the desert with the Israelites. And then, at the age of 120, Moses died having never entered the promised land. (Deuteronomy 34)

God used Moses greatly. So greatly. Moses endured a lot of waiting in his lifetime. There are many stories of waiting, preparing, and long-suffering in the Bible. We are no different. There is no person that will not go through some period of waiting or suffering. Patience is developed during these times or, at least, it can be. It can be an opportunity for growth personally and spiritually, or not. Not everyone develops patience when they’re required to wait. But, everyone is required to wait for something.

What does waiting look like without Christ. It looks like grumbling, complaining, and ungratefulness. It looks like bitterness, and anger, jealousy, resentment, and rage. It looks like misery, for that person and for those around them. It is hurtful and destructive. At times it is cruel. This is not Christ’s doing. He develops fruit in us, when we are in him.

“Abide in me” he says. Have you ever read these verses?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:1-11

I counted ten times in eleven verses that we are told to “abide in him”.

When you abide in him, you will develop patience and long-suffering. When you abide in him, you will bear much fruit. When you abide in him, and his words abide in you, you can ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. When you abide in him and his love, your joy may be full.

If you do not abide in him, you will not develop long-suffering. If you do not abide in him, you cannot bear fruit. If you do not abide in him you are thrown away like a branch, and eventually into the fire and burned. No branch can bear fruit, that does not abide in the vine.

Waiting, when you’re abiding in Christ, is still hard, but what it develops is good. We can go through a long period of suffering and do it poorly (like described above), or we can (abiding in Christ), go through a long period of suffering and waiting, and see God working in the midst of it. We will be able to see him changing us. We will be able to turn to him for comfort. We will trust him. We will be thankful, and grateful. We will have peace in the midst of our circumstances. We will develop perseverance and endurance. We will have love, towards others and towards Christ. We will be patient. It’s still hard, but it develops something good. A good that is displayed in us, and a good that glorifies God.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

Leave a Reply