Idol of Busyness: What we learn while sitting in the waiting room.
by Kevin Probst
One lesson we all learn in life is that it doesn’t get any slower. Life is more complex and busier for you today than it was a year ago. A year down the road will find you busier than ever before. The trend will probably continue for the rest of your life. Fewer emails? Fewer phone calls? Fewer responsibilities? Not going to happen. The problem is we often adapt to being more busy but more busy doesn’t necessarily correlate with a deeper walk with God.
Growth in the Lord can’t be micro-waved. You can’t say a quick prayer and expect God to add a decade of growth to your spiritual life. My five-year old son is so eager to grow up. He expects to grow an inch after every meal. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, is a slow process. Bowing to the idol of busyness is not at all conducive to spiritual growth. It’s like watching a nascar race. They circle at track at 200 miles an hour for 500 miles and end up where they started. Sometimes we find ourselves in a ditch spiritually, our wheels are spinning and it sounds like we are moving, but were not.
Isaiah said, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”
Have you ever sat in an ICU waiting room? There is no place like it on earth. People serve each other. They take messages for each other. They fetch coffee for each other. They will go out and buy food for people they have never seen before and will never see again. There are no racial barriers there. There is no political or religious bias. Everyone is focused on the door through which the doctor will come with his next report. People sitting in an ICU waiting room realize that the only thing we really have is love. I wish we would all live our lives as if we were living them in the ICU waiting room.
The heroes of the Bible all had to spend time in the waiting room. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for the child of promise. Joseph spent years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. David fled from Saul while waiting to be made king. Hannah waited years and years before finally becoming a mother. Peter and the disciples were instructed to wait for the Holy Spirit. We who call ourselves Christ-followers wait patiently for his coming.
Like an athlete going to the gym for body building, God takes us to the waiting room for character building. Deprivation can be a major part of the process. God can always do more than we ask, but God will never do all that we ask.
I sat down with my youngest son, Kameron, the other day to discuss what he might want for Christmas. As he was giving me his list I began to think Santa might need to leave his sleigh and bring a semi-truck. I tried to break the news to Kameron that he wasn’t going to get everything he wanted. I know if I give him everything he wants I will ruin him. The term we most often use is “spoiled brat”.
God does the same for us. He wants to form us into quality individuals and that is not done by pandering to our every want.
Catherine Marshall wrote in Adventures in Prayer, “Waiting seems to be a kind of acted out prayer that is required more often than I could understand until I saw the remarkable faith muscles this act develops, for isn’t it true that waiting demands patience, persistence, trust, expectancy, all the qualities we are continually beseeching God to give us.”
We often pray, “God, increase my faith. God, increase my strength. God, increase my desire for you.” How does God answer these prayers? He invites us into the waiting room.
Abraham had to wait but during that time God was forming the Father of the Jewish people. Joseph was prepared for a high government position while he sat in prison. David wrote some of his best poetry sitting quietly in fire-lit cave. Hannah waited and waited for a child until she finally cried out to God, “I will dedicate any child I have to the Lord.”
It’s not easy being in God’s waiting room. The biggest temptation is to bow to the idol of control. To grab the bull by the horns, take control of the situation and set out on your own. We can’t claim to be a Christ follower if we are leading the way. God controls the traffic lights in our lives. We love the green light but the red light gives us problems. It’s often the red light that keeps us from being broadsided.
May God help us to slow down, find some traction in our lives and take our place among those “that wait upon the Lord.”
Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.