I remember several years ago watching the movie Fireproof. I thought they did a decent job with the movie, but the part I loved the most was when they played the song “While I’m Waiting”(click here). Even though it’s been a while, that song is still one of my favorites because it hits on one of the biggest struggles we face as believers–waiting on God. Why is this so hard? It’s hard because the lie that always threatens to overcome believers hovers right below the surface of situations that require waiting. And, despite what unbelievers may think, the question is very rarely “Does God really exist?”. The question is so much more fundamental than that and directly connected to our hearts. The question is “Does God really love me?” You see in those moments when the way doesn’t seem clear and there doesn’t seem to be any hope or way to redeem the situation, that’s when our biggest fear surfaces–the one that worries that we really are alone. The one that whispers that God really doesn’t have our best interests in mind. The one that snidely comments that this was what we’ve always thought deep down inside: God doesn’t care.
I’ve come to believe that this is the truest test of our faith here and this is truly where we must take a stand. We need to decide in our hearts whether or not to believe God. To trust Him against all odds and especially when it seems impossible. Because I believe in the end that the heart of judgment will be less about what we did and more about whom we trusted in. And, of course, this all started in the garden. When God placed Adam and Eve in a place of paradise, He gave them only one rule. He even told them why they should follow it (because if you eat it, you will die die–according to the Hebrew). For a while, things are going well, and they enjoyed a charmed life free from sickness and pain, and they enjoyed sweet fellowship with God.
And then Satan comes on the scene. In John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost, we get an imagined behind the scenes look into Satan’s scheming. After the battle between Satan and his angels and God’s angels, Satan and his minions are cast down. When recovered, they begin to plan how to get revenge. When it is suggested that they attack again, Beezlebub gave alternate counsel:
What if we find
Some easier enterprize? There is a place
(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav’n
Err not) another World, the happy seat
Of som new Race call’d MAN, about this time
To be created like to us, though less
In power and excellence, but favour’d more
Of him who rules above; so was his will
Pronounc’d among the Gods, and by an Oath,
That shook Heav’ns whol circumference, confirm’d.
Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
What creatures there inhabit, of what mould,
Or substance, how endu’d, and what thir Power,
And where thir weakness, how attempted best,
By force or suttlety: Though Heav’n be shut,
And Heav’ns high Arbitrator sit secure
In his own strength, this place may lye expos’d
The utmost border of his Kingdom, left
To their defense who hold it: here perhaps
Som advantagious act may be achiev’d
By sudden onset, either with Hell fire
To waste his whole Creation, or possess
All as our own, and drive as we were driven,
The punie habitants, or if not drive,
Seduce them to our Party, that their God
May prove thir foe, and with repenting hand
Abolish his own works. This would surpass
Common revenge, and interrupt his joy
In our Confusion, and our Joy upraise
In his disturbance; when his darling Sons
Hurl’d headlong to partake with us, shall curse
Thir frail Originals, and faded bliss, Faded so soon. Advise if this be worth
Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
Hatching vain Empires. (Book 2)
Realizing the futility of trying open war against God, they revised their strategy to attack God where He is most vulnerable–us. In Genesis 3, we see the real scene acted out. Satan addresses Eve and begins by asking a simple question (my paraphrase): “Did God really say you should not eat from any tree in the garden?” Eve responds to correct him by saying “Not at all! We are allowed to eat from any tree, but we are forbidden to eat or touch this one or we will die.” She added a rule here that wasn’t communicated earlier. However, the focus is now on the forbidden. Satan outright contradicts God next by saying “You will not die. God doesn’t want you to eat of this tree because He knows that if you do, you will be like Him.” In other words, God doesn’t truly want the best for you. He’s holding out on you. His love is limited.
And that poisonous arrow hit its mark and it wasn’t much of a leap for Eve to go from this idea that God doesn’t truly love her to disobedience that had consequences far beyond her reckoning. You see the offer here was that she would have wisdom–the knowing of good and evil. The clincher is that if she had resisted the temptation (and continued to resist it every day), she would have learned wisdom and the knowledge of good and evil not by giving in to evil, but by fighting it. The wisdom was always within her reach, but instead of doing it God’s way and waiting on His timing, she took the shortcut and ruined it all. Fortunately, God excels in taking our failed attempts and redeeming them, so much so that Milton suggests that we gain more in Christ than we lost in the fall–felix culpa.
So what about us? Right now we are all in the midst of the same temptation. We are constantly in places where we need to wait for God to do His work or to reveal His work. Whether that is literally waiting on God to open doors, change hearts, or redeem difficult situations or whether it’s the more abstract understanding of being faithful doing good even when it seems useless, we are all waiting. Creation itself waits for its redemption and groans (Romans 10:18-25). And like Eve, we have a choice.
1. We can reject His plan and make our own way with its own consequences (Genesis 16) .
2. We can wait on God, but be worried and miserable the whole time.
3. We can wait on God with confidence and our hope will be our witness to the world (1 Peter 3:15).
So, let’s all resolve to make the right choice regardless of the situations we might be in. Roll onto God all those things that are outside of our control. Let’s choose to trust Him and to wait for Him with joyful expectation. And we can say, like John Waller,…
While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint
I’ll be running the race even while I wait