This article was originally posted in 2015 (Note the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” reference)
Confession: I am an unashamed, unapologetic television watcher. I have a spreadsheet of current and upcoming shows just so I don’t miss anything “important.” I watch television in my living room, on my iPhone, and occasionally while sitting in my car. Honestly, I find the escapism of television loosely redemptive in the midst of my chaotic, messy life.
I fell in love with television with the premiere of Alias in 2001. J.J. Abram had finished his work on Felicity and moved on to another powerful heroine: Sydney Bristow. Sydney, played by Jennifer Garner, is a double agent for the CIA who is posing as an agent of SD-6 (the evil empire). In spite of Bristow’s super awkward run (check it out), the show was engrossing and I was hooked.
Each episode was like a mini-movie and ended each week with a brilliant cliffhanger, and then I had to wait a whole week for the next episode! It was a week of longing for the next exotic location (and that awkward Sydney run).
And, then I was introduced to Netflix.
Want to watch the second season of Lost or the special episode of Friends where they were on a break? You can do it…with no wait time! In fact, the culture has even coined a phrase to describe the no-wait, on-demand phenomenon: “binge watching.” No longer does the word binge describe the weekend activities of state university coeds. Now, binge means watching episode after episode of your favorite show with only the occasional snack refuel or emergency field trip to the bathroom.
Netflix has now ventured into the business of making its own binge-worthy shows. (As a side note, you should be binge watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.) In a give-me-what-I-want-now society, Netflix has been glad to oblige. In fact, I find watching television the “old way” to be a bit excruciating. If the television season is less than 13 episodes, I wait until the show is complete and watch it over a weekend. Nope, no more “waiting until next week” for me!
However, because so much of what I desire is available to be binged, I find that I place my need for immediacy on God. Waiting stinks. Waiting for the Lord to clearly show you what is best can REALLY stink. We all admit that God’s timing isn’t our timing…but good gracious that is vague AND cliché.
We pray and we wait. We read the Scriptures and we wait. We seek wise counsel and we wait. As we wait we wonder: Did God hear me? Does God care about this situation? Can God really do something about this mess? Did I ask the right way? Or, even worse, maybe I should make a deal with God?
It could go something like this: God if you do this for me, I will ____________! We vow to earn God’s favor and in the moment we make a silly mistake: we assume we have anything to offer God that might merit God’s favor.
If Scripture is clear about anything, it is clear that our response to God is because God went first. We love because God loved. We are generous because God is generous. We are long suffering because God is long suffering. We don’t have to merit God’s benevolence towards us – Jesus earned that.
So, here is the question, “How do we wait without being an anxious mess?”
- Trust God’s character. While waiting we must trust that God’s intentions toward us are good. Waiting can be painful, but not so painful if you really believe however God responds will be totally for your benefit. Whether the answer to your waiting is yes, no, or maybe – it is for your good.
- Embrace the mystery. Timing is everything and God’s timing is always perfect. So, in your waiting upon the Lord, be okay that even the waiting, which is forcing you to trust at a deeper level, is for your good. God’s timing is a mystery, but a mysterious blessing it can be.
- You are not powerless. We do not wait (or do anything else) “as those…who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). God’s Spirit, the same Spirit that gave Jesus and you new life, can sustain you in those moments of waiting. Lean deeply on God’s Spirit and find peace – a peace that surpasses your own ability to understand.
So wait on the Lord and be anxious about nothing. Wait on the Lord and know his timing is perfect, even in the mystery. And in the waiting, be reminded of this:
“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV)