“Waiting” as Spiritual Formation

Have you ever been forced to sit and wait on something?  Did you know that if you lived on St. Paul Island in Alaska and got the urge for pizza it would take three days for the pizza to arrive?

Personally I can hardly stand waiting. We are people accustomed to doing; to activity; waiting is often perceived as lazy; not constructive; wasting time.

Flourish; growing; even in the seed – waiting for a bloom; for harvest. But before something blooms and flourishes, there is a time of waiting.

Sometimes God makes us wait. And while we don’t want to run out ahead of God, we also don’t want to remain idle and grow stagnant either. Waiting is spiritual formation. Waiting is good for the soul.

We begin with the story of the Apostles having just seen Jesus for the final time before He ascended. He commanded them to go into Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. They walked all day from the Mount of Olives where Jesus ascended back to Jerusalem and held up in an upper room to wait for the promise of God that Jesus had given them.

Scripture says that all eleven remaining Apostles were there along with Jesus’ mother, His brothers and some others. The total number of people waiting in the upper room was about 120. All of them waiting.

The important thing to note in this story is that they didn’t just wait idly on the coming of the Spirit, but while they waited they did what they could do

Notice what they did while waiting on God…

They Prayed. Acts 1:14 “They were constantly in prayer…”
They could have said, “I don’t need to pray, God already knows my needs, and He is sending me the Spirit.” But they didn’t do that, they prayed as hard as ever.

The word ‘supplication’ comes from the Greek word “Deesis (deh’-ay-sis)” – It means a seeking, asking, or an entreating to God. They already knew the Spirit was coming, yet they still stayed fervent in their petition to God. Prayer is crucial in our times of waiting on God.

They Studied. READ: Acts 1:16-20 – Imagine what all of the Apostles must have felt toward Judas Iscariot. I am sure they didn’t understand why this man had done what he had done.

But Peter began studying the Old Testament Scriptures which told about the betrayal of Judas. Their time of study allowed them to better understand that, while God did not cause Judas to sin, He saw its place in His plan of redemption.

Sometimes we seem to have many more questions than answers in life. We pray and pray for an answer and seem to never find it. Many times the answers to our questions are obviously within the scriptures. We don’t find the answers because we don’t look at the instructions.

Life is like that many times. We bypass reading the instructions of God’s Word and then wonder why we get ourselves into situations that require us to ‘back up and try again.’ If you are waiting on God for an answer, the very best advice I can give you is to read His instructions.

They remained faithful – Acts 1:21-26 – The Apostles were one man short because of Judas’ betrayal and suicide. There were two requirements for the successor: He had to have had a part in Jesus’ early ministry; He had to have been a witness to the ascension. Matthias became the one who would take the place of Judas.

Not only did the Apostles PRAY and STUDY during their time of wait, but they also took care of the business that needed to be done. Some people say, “Well we will just pray and leave everything up to God.” And never make any plans to follow through.

Waiting as spiritual formation doesn’t mean sitting around doing nothing… it means doing what we can, while we can, as best we can…while always being careful to not run ahead of God.FlourishLogo-copy

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