“Ugh! Why is this taking so long? Can’t it just be over? I’m ready to move on already!”
Yep. Those were my thoughts almost daily between January and June of 1996. My husband and I were doing the long-distance engagement thing while he finished up his last year at Central Bible College, and I was beyond ready for him to come home so we could get married.
There were 798 miles between Warren, OH and Springfield, MO. Twelve long hours (and eight minutes) separated us.
It was grueling. We were hopelessly in love and desperately lonely without each other. Time couldn’t go fast enough. Hurry up already!
Waiting has never been my thing. I constantly heard, “Hold your horses. Keep your britches on. Have patience. Chill out,” while I was growing up.
Whether you’re waiting in line, waiting for the doctor to call, waiting for a door to open or waiting for faith to become sight, time marches on at the same consistent, steady, painful speed it’s had for centuries. Second by second by agonizing second. And there’s absolutely nothing you and I can do about it.
There is more to waiting than just marking time. What you do while you watch the minutes tick by determines your future.
Joshua spent 40 years wandering around the wilderness after he got a taste of the Promised Land on his secret spy mission. That had to be tough. He knew how awesome it was. How amazing it was going to be to live there. The milk. The honey. Grapes the size of his face.
Yet….because of the doubt of 10 people that infected a million others, he had to wait 40 excruciating years in the wilderness.
But he didn’t just sit at home and check 14,600 days off his calendar while he sat around drinking coffee and playing cards with the guys. He didn’t sit in the corner feeling sorry for himself either.
Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Afterward Moses would return to the camp, but the young man who assisted him, Joshua son of Nun, would remain behind in the Tent of Meeting. (Exodus 33:11)
Joshua didn’t waste his days being depressed because it was taking so long. He spent them wisely. He hung out with Moses. He got to see the man in action and witness every aspect of leading God’s people. He went into the Tabernacle with Moses, spending time in the presence of God.
Even after Moses came out of the tent, Joshua didn’t want to leave. I so get that. Once you taste of the sweetness of His presence, there’s nowhere else you would rather be.
And what he did with those 480 months, my friends, is what qualified him to lead the charge into the Promised Land.
Mikel and I didn’t spend our time apart just sitting in a corner, crying about being lonely, and x’ing days off on a calendar.
We were in constant communication, and we had the $300+ monthly phone bills to prove it. We wrote countless letters and drove back and forth as many weekends as we possibly could.
If we hadn’t used those months to continue to invest into our relationship, we would have had no business getting married a month after he graduated.
Joshua spent 40 years preparing for his assignment. The incredible thing was he didn’t know it was his assignment. He had no clue he was going to be the next leader of Israel until right before Moses died.
But all of those hidden years of being faithful when no one was looking prepared him for the mission he had no idea was coming.
We don’t always know what the next season looks like, but if we stay close to God and use our time wisely, we’ll be ready when it comes.
It’s not how long it takes but what we do while we wait that matters. Let’s wait well.