A card arrives on the doormat, informing you that for one reason or another, a letter cannot be delivered. You must make the tedious journey through traffic queues to the sorting office. As you wait at red lights and roundabouts, you wonder what the letter contains. Will it bring good news or bad news? Will it be something trivial or really important, even life-changing? The delicious thrill of anticipation mingles with the chill grip of trepidation. Most of all, you wish the waiting was over. Once again you are caught up in the fast-spinning, impatient world of instant solutions, instant knowledge, instant gratification, “make haste” is the daily mantra.
Our fruit is plucked green from its source of nourishment and lacks the added sweetness of the sun’s ripening embrace. Convenience meals are zapped with instant heat. Childhood becomes an ever-shortened prelude to adulthood with bewildering decisions thrust upon youthful minds, unripe and lacking the maturity of experience. The act of waiting has become an intolerable trial and we are in danger of disregarding the value of confidence in expectation.
Arthur Boyd’s painting, “Waiting for the Tide”, depicts the mud banks of a little inlet where a small boat leans to one side. The two men who occupy the boat are helpless to move it, but they are untroubled by their situation. Experience has taught them how to wait with confidence. The tide will surely flow in at its appointed time bringing the welcome surge that will lift the boat from its resting place and nudge it out to sea. The fishermen are not clinging to wisps of wishful thinking. They are sure that their faith will become reality in due time.
It has been said that God has a Delayed Blessings Office. During the years that we may petition for an answer to a prayer, struggling to cope with the distressing lack of encouraging signs, we may wonder if our efforts are in vain. Yet God has heard and He is listening. Why then is our request seemingly languishing in the Delayed Blessings Office? There is marvellous power in stillness and trust. In Isaiah ch.30 we find this reassurance, “In quietness and trust is your strength. The Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion; for the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!”
The promises in scripture are the bases on which we may wait with confidence of expectation. When the Children of Israel were awaiting liberation from slavery, they prepared with care and obedience, ready to move at the appointed time, certain that the signal would come. The blood on the doorposts and lintel displayed their confidence in God’s protection and guidance through the dark night. When Rahab tied a red cord to her window she was acting on the promise that rescue would be secured for all who took refuge in her home whilst conflict raged. She prepared and waited in faith and her trust was honoured and blessed.
Our petitions will not arrive green and unripe. The answer comes when all is ready and everything is in place. Then we may appreciate the good purpose in delay. It will be the right time because it will be God’s time.
When the redoubtable John Knox was at the end of his earthly battles, he held to the promise of Colossians ch.1 “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” To a companion in faith, Richard Bannatyne, he confirmed his unswerving belief in the gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus. He likened it to an anchor for the soul.
“Cast thine anchor in the oaths and covenants of the Most High! Cast thine anchor in His infallible, immutable, unbreakable Word! Cast thine anchor in the infinite love of God, and come what may, that anchor will always hold!”
And the hymn writer reminds us,
“Faint not nor fear; His arm is near
He changes not, and thou art dear.”