By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
When our children were growing up we lived in a state that prohibited schools from starting before Labor Day. Though allegedly the law was passed so children and teachers didn’t have to be in classrooms when the weather was hot, we always figured it had something to do with the state’s tourist industry.
Anyway, this year by the time Labor Day rolled around, we’d been back to work for several weeks at our school jobs, and already felt more than ready for a break. We took the three-day holiday to travel and were thankful for time to relax, reflect and enjoy time in God’s creation.
Sunday, we visited a church served by a pastor we’ve known more than thirty years. Next week, he and his wife will mark twenty years of ministry with the same congregation.
We’d traveled nearly 400 miles, so we were surprised and amazed to see in the same pew a friend who’d driven more than twice that far for the weekend. She was present in the same worship service, we hadn’t seen her in years, and it was fun reconnecting and meeting her family.
When we were in the church more than a year ago, they were beginning a series on the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22). Sunday, they had made it to “long-suffering.”
The sermon on stress was timely and helpful. The pastor noted that the New Testament scriptures dealing with the topic were written when people rode camels yet are relevant to those who live in the space age.
The pressures they faced were different than ours, but no doubt at least as serious since they faced actual persecution and martyrdom.
One illustration he used was the sign language symbol for Quaker: a person holding both hands in front and twiddling their thumbs round and round. Apparently the mistaken concept of a person “waiting on God” is that he or she is passive, doing nothing.
However, the Hebrew word in Isaiah is an active word, full of eager anticipation, as the person expectantly waits for something phenomenal. Our “waiting” should be more like that of a person waiting tables for a dignitary – listening to him, paying attention to his desires, giving excellent service.
The pastor’s prescription for waiting on God: we’re to hope in the Lord; hear the Lord; hunger for the Lord, and honor the Lord.
The promises of the Old Testament bring hope: “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 40:31). “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).
These types of strength and good courage are not something we can conjure up by ourselves. They come only by slowing our labors, spending time in silence, listening and responding to the voice of God.
The gifts we receive in return are restoration, renewal and freedom.
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