As I settle into my annual Daniel fast (3 weeks of fasting media, meats, and sweets), I sense the Lord teaching me once again about waiting. Like all of you, there are a lot of things in life I’m waiting on- dreams, longings, unfulfilled promises. And also like all of you, I hate waiting.
In the past, focusing my thoughts and prayers on all the things I was waiting for in life caused me to fall into a pit of self pity and depression. In fact, much of my Daniel fasts in past years were spent dealing with the deep sense of emptiness I felt that I was waiting on God to fill. They were really difficult times. Times when my brokenness and loneliness seemed to sit on the surface of my life; and yet, God met me every year, reminding me that he was with me. I came out of these seasons stronger, with a more refined character, and with fresh insight on the nature of God. Through these seasons I began to see waiting not as an enemy to avoid, but as a refinement process God takes all of us through. I saw it as a necessary surgery that Dr. God uses to heal and refine broken, sinful people.
Yesterday during my prayer time I felt led to listen to “Longing for a New Jerusalem” by Matt Gilman. I’ve heard this song before, but there was something fresh that the Spirit was speaking to me as I was moved to tears worshipping to this song. The song (attached below) paints an amazing lyrical picture of the end times vision of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven. It speaks to the return of King Jesus who will usher in the fullness of the Kingdom of God, the eternal reign of God, when all things shall be made new. When our relationship with God will be fully restored and we would know him as a bride knows her husband. When every tear shall be wiped from our faces, and there will be no more pain and suffering. As I was soaking in the words of this prophetic song, I felt my soul cry, “Yes! Yes, I long for that! I want that! I wait eagerly for this! Come King Jesus!” It was one of the most intense desires of longing and wanting I’ve ever experienced. For a brief moment, all of the other things I’ve been waiting for paled in comparison to waiting for His return.
And then it hit me. Waiting is not just a process. Waiting is not just a necessary evil for healing, refinement, and character development. Waiting is not a test to push through so that God can bless. Waiting is worship. Sure, it may only be worship this side of eternity, but waiting is the reasonable response of God’s people living in the here, but not yet. Waiting is prayer. It drives us to to cry out for Jesus to return and for His Kingdom to be unfolded in our midst. Waiting is guidance. It orients our lives toward Jesus, driving us to seek Him since only He can satisfy. Waiting is blessing. It draws us into deeper relationship with Christ and increases our knowledge of Him. Waiting is remembering. It allows us to tap into the cry of generations of Christians who’ve come before us. Waiting is prophetic. It focuses our minds and hope on a future reality where all things will be made new.
So often, I think that if I can just wait a little longer, just remain faithful for another few months, God will “break through” and fulfill all of my deepest longings. After all, if waiting is about refinement and testing, then the end of this season of waiting must be near… right? But the reality is, waiting is an inescapable aspect of Christian spirituality, and a sure tell sign of following Jesus. The moment we stop waiting is the moment we say that what I have right now is better than what is to come at His return; and this is the moment we stop worshipping Jesus and turn to worship idols. Furthermore, the practice of engaging our soul’s inner longings and allowing them to feed our longing for the return of Jesus is a difficult, but necessary, spiritual discipline to practice.
With that said, I count all other things I am waiting for in life as a blessing as it reminds me of who it is I ultimately wait for, and I join in with the continual intercession of the Spirit and the bride. “Come! Come Lord Jesus Come! Come!”
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.