Athlete, What It Means to Wait
Colossians 4:2 (NIV)
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me,“ Micah 7:7.
“I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him,’” Lamentations 3:24.
Waiting is a part of life, way more than we think sometimes. It consumes so much and so many of our days. Despite technological advances that have moved us from stage coaches to Model Ts and Teslas, papyrus manuscripts to printing presses and Instagram, and open fires to fast food and microwave ovens, waiting remains a core part of everyone’s daily diet.
We still wait for dawn to come, spring to arrive, phone calls and RSVPs to be returned, prayers to be answered, traffic lights to turn green, seeds to germinate, diplomas to be earned, preseason conditioning to end, school years and seasons to finish, glue to dry, health to return, dreams to come true, and childbirth contractions to finally start (and end) … Yes, life is much of a waiting game.
Since we do so much waiting, how are we to understand it? What does God want us to sense in the wait of it all? Let me suggest a few things.
TO BE A CHRISTIAN IS TO WAIT. That is, Christians ought to be great at waiting. It’s who we are, a people who wait well. It must get into our DNA.
The entire biblical narrative calls on God’s people to wait. The Hebrews waited 400 years for their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. God also commanded the Jews to wait in Sabbath rest one day a week for a lifetime.
Further, Abraham waited a hundred years to be a dad, a nation waited 40 years to cross a river and, later, waited 3 1/2 years for rain to come. Generations had waited for a Messiah and thousands of years passed before God’s great promise of Genesis 3:15 was fulfilled. Jesus waited 33 years to reveal who He truly was – Savior of the world.
Even now, Christ’s followers continue to await His promised return. For us, waiting is endemic, pervasive and central to our core identity as believers. We wait for the greater reward, God’s reward. We must be great at waiting every day and known for it far and wide.
TO WAIT IS TO GROW. Waiting may grow some folks weary, but good spiritual waiting grows great character. Hope, patience, persistence, perseverance, faith and trust all emerge when we wait well. Our prayer life grows bold and strong too. And the unfulfilled longings and deferred gratifications that pile up during our wait produce toughness for the long haul.
Yes, we grow massively better for the wait.
TO WAIT IS TO ACT. Waiting is not passive but active. Waiting creates space for us to pause and think, to seize new, often unexpected opportunities. It gives us time to speak to ourselves, to others and especially to God.
Frequently in Scripture God asks people to call timeout and wait. But in the wait He wants us to pursue Him and to make the most of the new space our waiting always brings. It is not idle time. It is intentional time. He always has something for us in the wait.
Colossians 4:2 charges us, “Be devoted to prayer, being watchful and thankful.“ These are some of the best things to do with our waiting time. God wants to usher us into more time for prayer.
Waiting also helps our watchfulness, quietly raising our awareness levels of all sorts of things. And to wait is to create time and space for thankfulness to flood our souls. These three actions bring unexpected value to the waits of life.
TO WAIT IS TO HOPE. Waiting proves how strong and grounded our hope really is. You can’t wait very long if there is little hope that the wait will be worth it. The longer we wait, the stronger our hope and trust must be.
Those who don’t wait abandon their hope and ditch their trust. Hope and trust must be attached to the wait or it will die. Waiting in hope in God is the best waiting we can ever do! (Micah 7:7; Psalm 27:13-14).
All this is what it best means to wait.
Reflect: Do you wait well? In hope? Do you see your waiting as painful interruptions or blessed opportunities for new action? Is your waiting time regularly filled with prayer, watchfulness and thankfulness?
A prayer to consider: O Heavenly Father, thank You for waiting for us to come to You. You are slow to wrath and abounding in mercy. And thank You for the example of Jesus who patiently waited and endured. May Your Spirit keep empowering me to wait well too.
Help me to make the most of the opportunities that all my waiting moments create. I don’t want to waste the wait. Help me to give You my waiting time and encourage others to do the same.
I want my waiting time filled with prayer, watchfulness and thankfulness. And I want my waiting space driven by hope. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.