How are you at the waiting game? I generally think of myself as a patient person…until the doctor is delayed and I’ve been sitting in the waiting room (how appropriate a title) ‘way past the agreed upon appointment time. Or until the driver in front of me doesn’t immediately go forward when the light turns green. Or until I see that only two of the twelve checkout lines have people working the registers. Or…when God doesn’t act when and how I think He should.
This summer at our church the Sunday sermons are focused on the Old Testament book of First Samuel and a few of us who lead small groups are following that same pattern. We’ve looked at Saul’s appointment as king as well as the first downward, disappointing steps that lead to his ultimate tragic end.
Most of us know the “rest of the story” so we’re not surprised when the prophet Samuel is told to find Saul’s successor in the small town of Bethlehem. We know that Jesse, leader of the clan, first parades his oldest son as a candidate and, when he is passed over, the rest of the hardy boys—quite fit for military service and thus for leadership—subsequently pass before Samuel. After this parade of the non-chosen, the last of the litter is summoned. Here’s the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases the conversation in The Message: Then he (Samuel) asked Jesse, “Is this it? Are there no more sons?” “Well, yes, there’s the runt. But he’s out tending the sheep.”
Samuel hears God’s this-is-the-one and so begins the saga of King David. Historians place David at his anointing anywhere between 15 and 20 years of age. We know that young men were conscripted into the army around age twenty and when David was discovered by Samuel, he was still tending sheep. Even later when Saul called for him to soothe his mental torment by playing the lyre, David was still with the sheep so not yet old enough for any official position in the family.
Imagine the thoughts whirling in David’s head after that momentous anointing occasion. Was there ridicule from neighbors and family: “Yeah right…you’re the new king??” As he bedded down in the green pastures with the sheep, did he think about his older brothers out on the battlefield while he was offering nothing to the ongoing war effort? Even when he carried food to his brothers and was made aware of Goliath’s threats, he was mocked by the oldest brother: “Why did you come down here? Who’s with the sheep? You’re just a conceited know-it-all who wants to be the center of attention” (a loose translation).
Maybe at one time you felt God’s call on your life to do some specific thing but that call—or at least its specifics—have not been realized. Have you prepared for something that you believe God wants you to do but the opportunity to serve has not yet happened? One of the most difficult things God asks of us is wait. We want to jump at the chance, dive into the task, begin the process and God’s Spirit whispers, “Wait.”
David proved his trust in and obedience to his family, then to Samuel, and eventually to King Saul. The road between anointing and serving was a long one, some say fifteen years. Years filled with bloody war, hiding in caves, disappointment and—most of all—waiting. Is it any wonder David would eventually write these words:
Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the Lord’s favor in the land of the living? Wait on the Lord!
Be strong and confident!
Wait on the Lord! (Psalm 27)
Thoughts: Name one or two things you’ve been waiting for. Sit quietly with God. Ask Him to lead you into acceptance of His “now” will and plan.