Most people hate waiting. Me, I don't mind a little suspense. In fact, I enjoy it. I don't get tempted to open Christmas presents early. I never peek to see how the novel I'm reading is going to end. If I have to wait in traffic, I listen to the radio. If I have to wait at the doctor's office, I play around on my iPhone. Most of the time, waiting is OK with me.
But those are small things; they don't matter much. When it comes to big things, I can become quite impatient. When waiting for the Lord to meet a need or solve a problem, I confess that I have, at times, been a spoiled baby. I want his answers, and I want them now. When God doesn't respond in my timeframe, I can be like the psalmist who asked if God's unfailing love had vanished forever (see Psalm 77:8). I wonder if he will ever come to my rescue and, if so, how long will I have to wait?
Many times I have doubted God—not for his capability, but his willingness. I've even doubted that he cares. These doubts are shameful because they disparage the character of God. When I stop the “drama queen” act, I realize I know who God is and am reminded that his love never fails.
One of the lovely customs of the Hebrew people is to rehearse—that is, to review—the miracles God has done. At Passover, a child asks an adult why this holiday is celebrated (even if he already knows). The adults talk about the escape from Pharoah thousands of years ago. In fact, every food at the Passover Seder is a symbolic part of the ancient story. Every bite taken reminds them of the power of God.
In the Book of Jeremiah, judgment is spoken against Israel. In the second chapter, God bemoans the fact that the miracle of the Passover had been forgotten. Though God brought them out of slavery and into a fertile and beautiful land, they left him and turned to other gods. Though the living God had proven his power, the people turned to ridiculous, lifeless images made of stone and metal, expecting them to meet their needs. If it weren't so sad, it would be funny.
They forgot God because they stopped remembering God. They did not remember to speak of his miracles. They did not remember to comfort themselves with the evidence of his love and power. They did not rehearse what he had done, and so they forgot. I've often done the same. Have you?
How many times has God proven his love and consistent care to you and me? For his good reasons, he often tarries before he shows his hand. Since God makes us wait, we think he has neglected us. But can we even count the number of times he has swept into our lives and met our every need?
I have made a commitment to rehearse the faithful acts of God. I will not forget or doubt him because I will purposefully remember him. And when I list all that he has done for me, this is the first story I rehearse:
The foreign adoption of two of our children had a surprisingly high price tag. As we proceeded with the adoption in faith, donations from friends flew at us faster than we could catch them. But two weeks before we were to pick up the children, we were $4,000 short. The rest of the money had to be submitted before we left for the West Indies, where they lived. I was nervous. God had already provided so much, but the clock was ticking.
Then one day, my phone rang. It was a fellow officer. She had shared our story with a group of wealthy Salvation Army volunteers.
“Amy, how much money do you need?” she said.
I thought $4,000 was too high to even utter. So, I said what seemed more reasonable: “$3,000.”
“Well, I've got it for you. These women want to meet that need. But for some reason, I really thought the Lord had laid the number $4,000 on my heart and that's what the ladies were prepared to pay.”
I confessed my lie, my friend and I laughed together and, within just a couple of days, she brought me a cheque for the full amount. We were given the money we needed from an unexpected source at the last minute.
My teenage son, David, was with me when I received that phone call. As we celebrated, he said to me, “I will never have reason to doubt God.” It was quite moving. And as long as we keep remembering to remember, we won't have any place for doubt in our lives. My family will always be able to relax in God's care as we rehearse his acts of provision, beginning with that $4,000 in December 2012.
What's on your rehearsal list?
Major Amy Reardon serves at U.S.A. National Headquarters as editor of the Young Salvationist magazine and assistant national editor-in-chief.
(Photo: © iStockphoto.com/alaincouillaud))