He (Ezra) had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.” Ezra 7:9
Quick math check: first day of the fifth month – first day of the first month = 4 months.
Scratch what I said about it being quick. Let’s translate this a bit. Four months of travel. If you thought the “are we almost there’s?” got old after a few hours, you should see what it’s like three months in.
I read this verse Sunday morning, the day my Girlie drove from California with her grandparents to Phoenix before catching a plane and coming back to Colorado. That’s three states in one day, which doesn’t even cause us to flinch anymore, but poor old Ezra’s 900 mile trip (which is nearly the same mileage as what my Girlie logged in a single day) took 4 months to complete.
The night before I read this verse, a friend was telling me how she felt God was impressing on her to wait.
Let’s just state what is more obvious than the math problem we started with: waiting can stink in a big way. Not just for a red light to change (although there are some that seem to take twice as long as others), but I’m talking about those big-ticket items in life:
-wait to see if a loved one will regain their strength
-wait to see if this pregnancy will last longer than the others or if it, too, will tragically terminate
-wait to see if the scan shows new growth or a shrinkage
-wait to see if what appears to be broken can be restored.
My printer broke the other day. It’s not catastrophic in the least, but still is mildly annoying as there are certain things that just can’t be done electronically. I did some research and found the replacement I hoped would last longer that its 10-month old predecessor. Then the hunt for the best price began. I found it online for $20 cheaper than in an office supply store and it even included free shipping. I’m all about saving a buck, but the $20 difference also meant I’d have to wait 9 days until it’d arrive.
9. Whole. Days.
I’m self-employed, which somehow means 9 days without a way to spit out the occasional document is nonsensical even if the occasional document is occasional. After all, school starts next week and the kids just might need a form signed and we wouldn’t dare have to wait a little longer by going to a copy/printing store. I told the kids we were finishing up school supply shopping as we went to the store, knowing full well that I’d walk out with a new printer (and NOT expecting them to do a price match, which is completely besides the point, but a girl just has to gloat when getting something half off!).
It’s such a minor example, yet the immediate trumped the delayed, even when I figured I’d need to part with extra money for the quick purchase (and let me tell you in case you don’t have kids in school, you really need to hang on to every penny this time of year to cover all those back to school expenses). The immediate also won when I put cold pasta into a small little electrical box we call a microwave and less than two minutes later I pulled out a piping hot meal. Same is true when I called a client at his office. He wasn’t at his desk, so I left him a voicemail. And then texted his cell, because I really, really needed an answer right away.
Did I mention that I don’t do this waiting thing well?
I figure I’m not alone in that. I think I’m showing patience when I wait for a Red Robin hamburger rather than one from McDonalds (if we can actually call it a hamburger). But the point of reference is off. Back in the day (or even currently in less-affluent areas), people had to first butcher the animal. More like first care for it so it would grow larger and stronger prior to killing it. Then they’d have to process the meat. Then light the fire, even without fire starter or Doritos (which I recently learned on Pinterest doubles as a fire starter. Watch out, world. This single mama is about to take her kids camping solo. I’ll be sure to bring several bags of those much-too-good chips and probably a few rolls of toilet paper, which I’ve been known to toss into a fire prior to my Pinterest-education).
Again, I don’t think I’m alone (okay, maybe I am when it comes to toilet paper, Doritos campfires). We just don’t do waiting well.
I share all of these silly babblings because many of you are waiting: a few by choice, many not so much, but waiting nonetheless. And to the one who is waiting when it seems to defy all logic. When the wait tears at your soul because the land between is shifting sand that takes you neither here nor there. When others say you’re waiting doesn’t make sense, yet you hold on because He told you to and that’s the only voice you choose to follow.
To you I simply say: you’re brave. Not because you chose this, because you absolutely wouldn’t. Not because you enjoy this, because you don’t, except for that strange irony that it draws you closer to your Messiah than ever before and you wouldn’t, couldn’t ever dare trade that for anything else, even the very thing you’re waiting on.
You’re brave because waiting defies cultural norms. It’s a land riddled with unknowns where GPS and roadmaps become non-existent. It’s a place where self disappears and if we aren’t careful, doubts infiltrate like never before.
To you, oh brave one, I simply say this:
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14