On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. Acts 1:4
He was brilliant. He was famous. He was relatively young. And then he became blind.
John Milton, the British poet and statesman of centuries ago, spent the last ten years of his life waiting to see what use he would be without eyesight. He found out. In a poem he had to dictate, he revealed he had come to understand: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
That’s a hard lesson to learn.
The one who said, “If the Army has taught me one thing, it’s how to wait.” probably has people from all branches of service nodding in agreement—but not in joy. Waiting is not fun.
When the Lord once asked, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah jumped at the chance to say, “Here am I. Send me!” We can relate to the eagerness.
Since the United States is not using the draft to call up troops, everyone currently in uniform has said to America, “Send me!” They wanted to serve their country. They did not say, “I want a chance to stand around and wait.”
We don’t want our careers to stall out. We don’t want to waste time. We don’t want to be bored. We surely do not want our return date from deployment to be delayed. We grumble at those responsible for making us wait.
That means, sometimes we are tempted to grumble at God. If truth be told, doesn’t he have the final say about what happens in our life?
The disciples of Jesus were eager to carry out the mission to bring the gospel to all nations as soon as he returned to heaven. That was not to happen. Jesus told them: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised…”
Something needed to happen first. They needed pre-deployment training. They needed special armament. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit would give them power from on high. They would see the power of the gospel in action as 3,000 became Christians before their eyes on one day.
The waiting was necessary. The waiting was worth it. It was part of God’s plan.
Only then were they ready to move forward with the gospel. And move they did! Christianity began to spread like wildfire. Thousands and thousands more came to faith.
When plans for our life do not unfold as quickly as we like; when God steps in to change those plans; when it appears that we are just killing time, remember Milton. Remember those early disciples.
When the time comes that we have no more work to do for God, we will know it. On that day, we will find ourselves standing in glory.
Until then, if he wants us to stand and wait once in a while, we will do that—knowing that by waiting we are still serving—and a divine plan is unfolding.
We pray: Heavenly Father, we easily grow impatient. We come up with our own plans and expectations. We become frustrated when they do not work out. Remind us that your plans for us are good plans. Your plan to send your Son into the world to be the Savior is the best plan of all. Your Old Testament people grew weary of waiting for him. But now we can see how perfect your timing was. You still control the times and the plans for us in the New Testament. Use us even when we think we are useless. Amen.