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What to/not to do while you wait

The calendar has clicked over on a new year and, not surprisingly, your problems have not magically disappeared and your dreams have not been fulfilled (unless you dreamed to live another day, perhaps). In between now and when things come to fruition is the waiting and I find that waiting reveals more about who I am than does moments of fulfillment. Put more simply, how I wait speaks to who I am. Paul told his protégé, Titus:

“For the grace of God… trains us… while we wait” 

I remember years ago David Wilkinson (the Prayer of Jabez author) saying that he sinned when he felt uncomfortable so he learned to ask the Holy Spirit to comfort him, and this usually happened quickly when he consciously asked for comfort. Having to wait can cause discomfort, and when I am discomforted I can look for distractions: I look at YouTube (NFL Highlights, sailing, prophetic words, music… not necessarily bad stuff) or Facebook or Instagram. I find a new series on Netflix to watch last thing at night to distract me from the waiting of the day. Mobile devices are battery powered distractions and, if we are not careful, we will distract ourselves to death. I need to learn to do better things while I wait in 2021. What are these better things, and what shall I avoid?

Here’s the full scoop on what Paul instructed young Titus:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. 12 It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 as we wait for the happy fulfilment of our hope in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good.

There are lessons I can learn from this potent paragraph:

  • Grace appeared in Jesus (“Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.” John 1:14)
  • Grace brings salvation.
  • Salvation is not exclusive, it is for “all people” (“bringing salvation to all people.” 
  • That said, salvation is found exclusively in Jesus Christ (“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12)
  • Grace trains me, but I should not take it for granted because God has other tools in his toolbox. (“Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4) I can choose kindness, or more direct discipline.
  • While I wait I have to “reject godless ways and worldly desires” –what I desire while I wait gives a clue as to what I am waiting for. The stuff I gravitate towards… is it of eternal quality, or “worldly passions”?
  • Self-control, uprightness, godly living: these should fill my waiting.
  • Avoiding bad things is not enough of an incentive: my vision has to be filled with hope of something bigger, “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Believers used to have an awareness of Christ’s return to earth or our meeting Jesus in heaven and becoming like him; nowadays we seem to have lost it, but 1 John 3:2-3 says “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
  • His goal is not a new set of laws or rules for Christian living: “Thou shalt not watch Netflix.” His goal is my freedom. “He gave himself for us to set us free…” Freedom is the ability to choose the right thing at the right time for the right reason and not be beholden to bad habits, past patterns or destructive choices that keep us from God’s best.
  • People who are truly his are “eager to do good” – and, I might add, “especially while they are waiting.”
  • "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37: 3-5

We did a lot of waiting around in 2020 while we social-distanced, sheltered in place, worked from home. Do we need to shake off some mediocre waiting habits and replace them with best waiting practices? I know I do. Happy 2021! May the way we wait for that which is “not yet” result in us ending 2021 in top form. “For the grace of God… trains us… while we wait.” 

 

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