And just like that I put an end to my mother’s gym aspirations, after only one visit. I was very young and Mum had decided she needed to go to the gym. The gym offered a full crèche service—toys, snacks, napping mats, plenty of children to play with—you name it, they had it. Mum was assured I would be in good hands. So she went on a tour of the gym, maybe even tried a class.
It was when she returned that she decided this gym thing wasn’t going to fly. You see, I was sitting in exactly the same position in which she had left me, an uneaten snack in front of me. I had rebuffed the carers’ attempts to include me. I had ignored children they had sent to try to entice me to play. I was waiting for my mother. I still have what I think is an image of that room in my head. The TV playing ‘80s cop shows in the corner, the table I was sitting at, the feeling of single-mindedly waiting for Mum to re- turn. Surrounded by opportunity and activity, I was frozen with fear, waiting . . .
Flash forward a few years. I’m sitting on a bench waiting for my mum again. This time I’m at high school. After an exam in the morning, Mum is picking me up. I know she’ll come so I sit and wait.
Forty-five minutes later, I’m still waiting. She must be running late. One hour, I’m starting to get annoyed. After two hours, I’m hoping she’s OK. Finally, someone comes to talk to me from the school office: “Your mum called. She’s on her way.” I watch as the school bus leaves, the one I would normally catch if I hadn’t finished early. Finally, Mum arrives, apologising profusely.*
I had achieved nothing and wasted a good three hours. I could have gone and joined the study groups in the library. I could have gone to the office and tried to contact Mum or Dad to find out what had happened; it would have forced a result. Instead I just waited, afraid to rock the boat, full of faith, never doubting that Mum would eventually pick me up, no matter how long it took.
That’s why I think we use waiting as an excuse.
We have been waiting for 2000 years for Jesus to return. As Adventists, we’ve been preaching about the “soon coming” for 150 years at least. We’re confident it will happen. Our faith is strong! But our waiting is passive.
We wait for the latter rain, for the Holy Spirit to pour out on us, for the gospel to be preached to the world in power and truth. We know the Holy Spirit will facilitate this exponential mission explosion. And that Jesus promises access to this power. So we are content to wait—content that we don’t see that power moving because it’s not available yet.
We use the story of the disciples waiting for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem after Jesus leaves (Acts 1 and 2)—and we pray and we hold meetings and we hope that one day the Holy Spirit will anoint us and we’ll see that kind of movement in our lives; that apostolic calling, that mission work or that evangelistic fervour.
We use waiting as an excuse not to go. We are not ready, we need to know more, be more perfect and understand prophecy better.
Like my toddler self, sometimes we’re afraid of the outside world so we keep to ourselves, rather than reaching out. As a Church we have faith but keep it to ourselves; shut off and removed from what goes on around us.
Like my teenage self, sometimes we feel like we’ve done all the work we can and so we have a licence to wait. As long as we pass, there’s no need to go the extra mile or seek a hastening of the delay.
"As a Church we have faith but keep it to ourselves; shut off and removed from what goes on around us."
Jesus cautions us in His message to the church of Laodicea. We say we are comfortable, having no needs, living it up . . . waiting for Him to come back.
He says, you need Me. You need Me to be your treasure (gold tried in fire), you need My robe of righteousness (white raiment) to cover your sins and you need to see others with the compassion I see them (eye salve).
As a man, I waited, this time for my bride. She was an hour and-a-half late but I wasn’t going anywhere. I waited with eagerness and excitement. And then there was a wedding and a wedding feast. It was worth the wait.
Jesus wants you and everyone you know to attend the ultimate wedding feast, the one that He’s hosting for us. Don’t use waiting as an excuse. Pray for God’s power in your life, pray for opportunities to reach your community, pray earnestly. Live life differently. Stand out, not because of anything you’ve done but because of Who covers you. What are you waiting for?
* My mother is the greatest mother in the world. But yes, she did forget me and she’ll be horrified when she reads this. Sorry Mum.