Waiting on God – What does it really Mean?
The Waterhole Blog
18 March, 2010 Jim Gettmann
There is a certain phrase which crops up again and again in the Scriptures. I suspect that it is one that makes most of us a little uncomfortable. I’m speaking of those ‘exciting’ words, “wait on the Lord.”
Psalm 27:14 is a good example: “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”
Or the famous verse, “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.” Isaiah 40:31
Most of us in this instant, fast-everything age have lost the art of waiting. If it doesn’t happen now, we get the feeling it’s not going to happen at all. And that makes us uncomfortable. We start to feel as if we are no longer in control. If God doesn’t answer our prayers immediately, or within a fairly short time, we start to suspect that something must be wrong, that He is mad at us, or not hearing us, or that the answer was no. Patience has become a dirty word.
Well, I’m sorry to have to be the one to break the bad news to you, but if you want to be one who goes deep with God – or even if you just want to be an average Joe or average Jane who is learning to know Jesus personally and walk with God – you are going to have to recover this lost art of waiting on the Lord.
Now I have sometimes wondered what this phrase really means. Am I supposed to just wait God out? Let enough time go by and it will happen? Some versions translate it “Hope in the Lord.” So does it mean that I just sit here and hope that something happens? Both phrases in English seem fairly passive. An admonition to be passive doesn’t sound much like the God I’m getting to know.
A few days ago I read Psalm 27 aloud as my wife and I were spending time worshipping. As I got to this phrase at the end of the chapter the thought came to me that I should research this word, waiting, and find out what it really means to wait on the Lord.
The first thing I noticed about it as I read the verse in Hebrew is that it has the same stem word as the word for hope, tikvah. Our word, wait, is kavve. It makes sense in Hebrew, take my word for it. As I already said, many Bible versions translate the phrase as, “hope in the Lord.”
Other dictionary definitions were: trust, look eagerly for; gather, bind (twist).
When I want to understand a Hebrew word I’m always asking, “What is the action originally connected with it.” That’s because Hebrew is an action oriented language and culture, not concept and theory oriented. Back in the days of Moses the language was simpler and everything was connected to an action. The concepts we find in our bible translations were adaptions of these actions. This is good for us today, because if we can find it, the original action draws a picture for us to help us understand better. Hebrew is a very pictorial language!
To make a long story short, the picture behind our word is of strands being gathered and twisted together to make a rope. What does that have to do with waiting in patience and hoping in the Lord?
Well, look at this picture. You have been praying for months for the Lord to provide a job for your best friend. You see only one thing: your friend needs a job and is having great difficulty surviving financially. Unemployment is running out. Where is God? This is a simple matter! He needs a job!
God, however, is collecting strands.
He knows that your friend, let’s call him Robert, needs a job. He has a plan for that job. But he’s also looking at another piece needed to build his strong rope. He’s been working on Robert for a long time, helping him to learn trust. This is an excellent opportunity. He’s got another strand in view, helping Robert learn to manage his finances more wisely. A time of having little is helping him to prioritize and budget.
He’s also got Robert’s wife in view. She’s further down the road of trusting God and dealing with finances, but she’s having trouble letting go of her fear of trusting men to care for her, since her father never was able to provide for the family.
Then there is Earl, who owns a business. He could really use someone like Robert, but Earl prefers doing everything himself. If you want it done right… do it yourself. The Lord has been working for a LONG time on him, to get him out of his self-reliance mode. IF Earl responds right, there will be a job offer for Robert. So far he isn’t learning his lesson.
Then there’s Robert’s parents, who have to finally learn to stop putting their 2-cents in every few minutes or coming too quickly to bail “the kids” out. And the teenage daughter, whose materialism is becoming a problem.
I think you get the picture.
Our great Lord is doing so many things behind the scenes, in so many peoples’ lives. It’s not just about the job and it’s not just about Robert. Some strands we see. Others we don’t. But the thing is, when He is done gathering his different strands, he’ll weave them together just right and then you will see the prayer answered.
Waiting on God is about holding on tight, hoping with expectation and trust, knowing that your Lord is not making you wait just to see how long you can “take it.” He’s a cook with a lot of pots on the stove while he cooks you a 5 course meal, he’s a painter painting a masterpiece. He’s a rope maker weaving a strong rope.
You are that rope.
So when you know you need to “”wait on the Lord,” look a little harder and you will begin to see a bunch of hemp strands that you never knew were there. The Lord is drawing them all together, and when he is done weaving, your moment will come.