I suppose I’ve always been this way:
- Shaking the presents to guess what’s inside.
- Reading the last line of a comic strip to see if it’s funny enough to read the whole thing.
- Reading the last chapter of a book first or the final concluding paragraph of an article.
- Actually walking down the entire buffet line before I choose “buffet.”
Some of you understand. Maybe you belong to a family where you only tell the punchline and everyone laughs because they’ve heard the story so many times. Some of you are shaking your heads in disdain, saying it’s the process that counts as much as the end result. And you are right. Sometimes the ending is spoiled when we know it too soon. If you knew all along “the butler did it”, where is the mystery?
Whether it’s waiting for Christmas morning, waiting for kids to grow up, or waiting for an answer to prayer, we have this desire to skip to the end. I’ve heard some say that whether it’s good news or bad, they just want to know so they can move on to the point they can actually do something.
Though it often escapes us, there is purpose in waiting. Waiting provides for us, protects us, and prepares us.
Waiting provides valuable lessons that can’t be learned in the instant gratification lane. Besides teaching me patience, a virtue few of us enjoy learning, waiting provides me with a renewed sense of perspective. It causes me to realize I’m not in control of everything, not even my own life. There are situations where the only control I have is how I respond to the situation. We aren’t always the captain of our own destiny. Waiting teaches us that God is God; I’m not. It provides greater blessing when I would have chosen less.
Waiting protects us. I recall a number of times when my delay was actually the hand of God protecting me from a poor choice, a bad relationship, or an unforeseen accident down the road. Sometimes we have to wait for certain doors to open because we aren’t ready for what’s on the other side. Sometimes, if we push too hard, we open a door not meant for us, revealing real dangers we hadn’t anticipated in our eagerness to pass through. Imagining the consequence of our choice helps us to wait patiently.
Waiting prepares us. Imagine trying to pass a test without studying and learning the material. Consider the consequences of being promoted too quickly to a job only to find you lacked experience to be successful. Reflect on the plight of being thrust into marriage too soon. Waiting prepares us for a future we’re unready for now. It affords the opportunity to build not only our knowledge and skills, but our character. Just as we wait for a fruit tree to produce good fruit, so waiting produces good results in our lives.
So which is better, waiting or skipping to the end? As with most of life, the best answer may not be “either/or” but “both/and.” As difficult as it is to wait, especially in the darkest times, it’s helpful to skip to the end of the bible and read the conclusion of the story. “God wins!” Our God who sees you and me right where we are, who knows our pain and every temptation that faces us – this same Mighty God will work good for all those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. He will lead you through the valley of the shadow of death. He will show you the way to go because you have not been there before. The end of this chapter of my life is not evident just now. But the end of my story – and all who trust God – is clearly revealed. The power of God’s Spirit gives us peace in the middle of the storm and secures our hope, “as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)
While you are waiting in difficult times, go ahead and skip to the end of the story and see that it is well with your soul.