I was driving to church on Sunday, listening to UCB Radio (no surprise to my regular readers!), when I had to stop for some temporary traffic lights. I had already come across these traffic lights when driving to our nightly revival meetings (please come if you can, they’ve been incredible!) so they didn’t take me by surprise. The traffic lights are 4-way and take a long time to change so I was merrily singing along to the radio, waiting patiently when, in my wing mirror, I noticed that the lady from the car behind me had exited her car and was running towards the driver side of mine. Before she had reached my car, the lights changed green and I pulled away. She then ran back to her car, got in, had to start her car before driving through the green light too.
I watched her in my rear view mirror as I entered the mini roundabout. She was nowhere near me and hadn’t even caught up with me at the next set of traffic lights, which were red. Once they were green, I turned left and didn’t see her again.
She had quite clearly thought that the temporary lights were broken because they had been on red for a long time. She had grown impatient and wanted to tell me to go through the light even though it was red. What struck me, and to be honest, amused me slightly, was that because of her impatience, her journey was actually slowed down even though she was trying to speed things up.
I really felt God was showing me a life-lesson through this encounter; a lesson about patience if God tells us to wait; a lesson about not trying to force something to happen when God hasn’t given us the green light. Just because God’s light can be red for what seems like an inordinately long time, doesn’t mean that the light is broken. God’s bulbs do not fail and His power supply never runs out!
The bible is scattered with scripture about waiting on God and I’m sure you’re familiar with many of them. My personal favourite from Isaiah 40: 31 is, ‘But they who wait for 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.’ Notice, there’s nothing about waiting until you’re fed up and trying to fly on your own!
Psalm 27:14 says, ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!’ In one short sentence, the phrase, ‘wait for the Lord, is repeated. How more emphatic does the message have to be?
Patience features as readily as waiting...the two go hand in hand, ‘for if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience’ (Romans 8: 25). Patience is actually a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23), that is, it should grow as our walk with God deepens.
We see the outcome of impatience in Genesis 16 when despite being promised a child by God, Sarah and Abraham circumvent God’s will because their child was not conceived quickly enough. Sarah forces the issue and asks Abraham to sleep with her maidservant Hagar resulting in the conception of Ishmael. This doesn’t provide the happy ending Sarah was hoping for.
Sarah’s light was red for a very long time, 25 years in fact, but eventually she did conceive Isaac. In the meantime, Ishmael, grew up to became the father of the Ishmaelite tribes, that group who sold Joseph to the Egyptians (Genesis 39: 1).
Sometimes, when we try to force God’s hand, we cause a bigger problem for ourselves in the long run. In other instances, the very thing we are waiting on Him for can be held up further because of our meddling. Remember the lady running up to my car to tell me to go through the red light. She never caught up with me even though we were waiting at the same red light.
Waiting isn’t always easy, our patience sometimes wears thin but wait when God says wait and persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10: 36).