One of the hardest things for us to do in this age of technology is to watch and wait. When a website takes longer than usual to load, we mutter not-so-nice words under our breath. When the street light seems to take forever to change or the person in front of us does not notice it changed and move at a rate we expect, we get frantic. When we push a button a few times for the elevator, we continue to push it again if the elevator does not rush to our floor. We live a life of rush, of busyness, of frantic racing from place to place or task to task. But God’s Word tells us that we were never meant to be zooming around everywhere like a chicken with its head cut off.
In Proverbs 8:34, it says that we will be blessed if we listen, watch, and wait. This seems simple. Listen. Watch. Wait. But to do these three things is not so easy. To listen, means we need to be intentional. You may have heard the phrase, “Put on your listening ears.” For a child of God to have listening ears, it means we have ourselves ready to listen. The noise of the world isn’t drowning out God’s voice. We have made time to hear. We have found a place that will promote the stillness we need to hear the still small voice.
Not only are we to listen, but we are to watch. We watch God move with our eyes. We watch what He has for us. But we don’t act. It says we watch and wait. This is not the typical sequence of action for us. We are accustomed to watching someone show us how to do it, and then start following the How-To video to accomplish the same project or cook the same meal. God wants us to listen and watch for Him, and only move when He wants us to move. To be in His will, to walk so closely to Him, following His instruction, requires us to listen, to watch, and to wait. This is what abiding in Him is all about—and living this way results in living a life that is blessed.
“Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” – Proverbs 8:34 [ESV]
There were two sons who were very different. The one son wanted the inheritance so the father split up the estate and the son ran off with the amount he was given. The other remained. Most people remember this story. Finally after the son spends all of his money, he realizes what he did. He returns to his father and repents. What was lost was now found.
What was the father doing while the son was away? Can you remember that part of the story? When the son was returning, he wasn’t even at home when his father saw that he was returning. He was “still a long way off.” Why? Because the father was watching and waiting for the lost son.
God watches and waits for us too. He does not want to lose any of us. He is filled with unfailing love and overflowing compassion. He wants to run to each of us. He wants to embrace you. We simply need to head home. No matter what you have done, no matter how far you have traveled, you always can return to him. He’s waiting. Come home.
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20 [NLT]
I laugh so often when I read the Book of Jonah. There are so many eye opening moments in this book that have certainly convicted and humbled me. Some people will focus how Jonah finally followed God’s command and went to Ninevah. Some people will focus on the how the people of Ninevah repented and changed their ways. I like what happens just after the Ninevites hear the message and believe. They fast.
Right after that God relented. When he did it made Jonah angry. He was not happy that God was forgiving of these people. They were “bad” people. They did wrong. The Bible says that Jonah then went and plopped himself nearby and “waited to see what would happen to the city.” That part gets me every time. What was he waiting for? Was he waiting to see if they messed up again so he can say, “Hey God, look I told you they were bad people and you were wrong to forgive them”? Was he waiting to see if perhaps God would change his mind (which is not possible)?
There are moments in our lives when we do this too. We get angry at the injustice in the world—and there is much of it. We speak with unforgiving lips. We act as the judge. Imagine each person who committed those wrongs finding forgiveness. God relented. They accepted Jesus and have been redeemed—but what about what they did? What about the rape, murder, adultery, lies, theft??? What about……. You can sit just outside watching and hoping that others pay for what they have done, or you can receive God’s forgiveness and show that same forgiveness to others.
“Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city.” – Jonah 4:5 [NLT]
In Exodus 2, we read about Moses committing murder. Verse 12 mentions how Moses looked around in all directions before acting. The NIV states: “Looking this way and that and seeing no one.” Moses knew what he was doing was wrong. In the same way, we sometimes look around to see if anyone is watching before we do something we know we shouldn’t be doing in the first place.
We cannot hide anything from God so why do we look around? Do we look around in hopes that no one else will see what we are about to do? Do we care what people think? Are we already feeling guilty for something we have prepared to do in our hearts? No matter the case, when we are looking around before we are doing something, perhaps we should not be doing it—perhaps we should consider doing something else.
If you catch yourself looking around today, take a step back and ask yourself why you are looking around. Ask yourself what is guiding your steps.
“After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.” – Exodus 2:12 [NLT]
Whenever I leave the house and do not take my dog Max with me, he will look out the kitchen window for me while I am gone. There is a bench my grandfather built long ago that he puts his paws upon to hold himself up to see out at the drive way. I have found that if I am only gone a short while, my dog Max is still waiting by the window awaiting my arrival. However, if I am gone for hours, he has long given up on watching out the window. Instead, he is resting on the sofa at his special spot.
This reminds me a lot of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25). There were ten virgins, five who were prepared and five who were unprepared. “The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep” (25:3-5 NIV). It ended up that when the bridegroom returned, he told the five who were unprepared that he did not know them. We are told to be watchful because we do not know the time of the return of Christ.
So the questions I have for you to ask yourselves today are:
*Are you like my dog Max?
*Are you waiting by the window, prepared to greet your Master?
*Have you gotten tired of waiting, and walked to the sofa to rest?
We don’t know the time or the hour, but we do know what awaits us if there is no oil in our lamps. I pray that today you are able to find renewed energy for your walk with Christ. We are not promised an easy life, but we are promised that He will be by our side through it all.