Of course we all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. The two animals who are at polar opposite ends of the speed spectrum. For the most part we get the story, the hare is fast and thinks he is unstoppable and that the race between him and the tortoise is a no brainer, giving him all the time in the world to hang out and get side tracked, until he realizes that he had lost track of his time and he is about to lose the race because that tortoise never stopped and the hare never noticed until it was too late. This story is good at helping children understand tolerance for others; but one thing that we tend to focus less on is the fact that there is something powerful about patiently waiting, something that the neither the hare nor the tortoise ever understood because patience is really only needed when we are in the middle of a struggle. We don’t need patience to get through a great day when everything goes as planned and right on time. We need patience the way that our muscles need to be strengthened, through resistance and contraction; in other words when something is opposing us, patience must become our weapon of choice.
Luke 21:14-19 (NKJ)
“Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.”
This verse doesn’t refer to a generic wait for anything, it is making a bold declaration from the inside of faith as to what we must do in placing the wait time completely into God’s hands. This stretch of time between “Amen” and “I have it in my possession now” is a make or break moment, crucial to our faith. Our faith never stops trusting, believing, expecting, anticipating or hoping for the desired results from start to finish. The key in all of this working is to swiftly and decidedly place it all into God’s hands, which takes it out of our time table (or those dictated to us) and takes the situation straight into the heart of patience. This is what it means to trust God with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding of just how long the wait will be. See, this is where the good fight of faith is either won or let go of in the crucible of the pains of patiently waiting for something that we think we needed yesterday. We know that Jesus was speaking about the signs of the end times (the days we believe that we are in the beginnings of now) in Luke 21 and cleverly placed within all of these things that are coming our way - a little clue as to how we are able to handle all of it and keep ourselves (our souls) in tact, still full of faith and power even when crazy things begin to go down and those closest to us betray us. Of all the weapons we have - PATIENCE!? As we read this we are both baffled and intrigued at the same time. As far as most people are concerned, patience is a timing thing, right? We need patience to put up with long lines at the DMV and of course we need most of our patience to tolerate the many questions that our relatives just won’t stop asking. Patience to us is less of a tool as it is a gift that we have as a result of our relationship with God. But in this understanding we’ve actually missed something pretty crucial to the faith in which we demonstrate our knowledge of who God is.
Hebrews 6:15 (NOG)
“So Abraham received what God promised because he waited patiently for it.”
Are we the only ones who wonder why certain sentences get their own numbered verse, while others are lumped into a paragraph? It all comes down to emphasis. There is a real emphasis placed upon the promise that Abraham received coming by way of patiently waiting; and we thought it was simply faith all along! It’s both actually. Faith and patience are best placed as a man and woman coming together to make a baby, how faith and patience need each other to produce the promise that God has given His word on. We call those like Abraham and Sarah pillars of great faith and this is true; but they are equally masters of patience (Hebrews 6:12), and no, not the kind of patience that one needs while driving behind an older woman who can’t quite reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel at the same time. The patience that people of faith must understand and apply whenever stepping into faith is actually a weapon and a pro-active tool that is used to carry that faith to completion. This patient waiting is the same as we experience after a powerfully united and passionate moment of worship when we are all gathered together as one voice to adore our Father; His presence fills the room and our hearts are elevated higher and higher as we all collectively wait upon the Lord. Sometimes He fills someone with a Word from Him and sometimes it is just silent - the one thing that never stops however, is a desire to receive something from Him. People get healing happening in these moments, others get reignited from within. This type of patient waiting is overflowing with expectation as it creates and cultivates an atmosphere of receiving that which He has promised in His word. THIS is the power of patience.
Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)
“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
Such a prophetic verse that can confound anyone without ears to hear. This verse in Isaiah is talking about us (children of God) actually being able to do as God does as it is connected to a few verses prior to this in verse 28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.” We have missed a major clue here because as this is guiding us to the TRUTH we can see that the way in which we are able to step into our divine rights as heirs of God’s Kingdom is not by might, nor by power - it is through the act of waiting and waiting patiently.
We have spoken many times of the way in which Jesus was consistently taking moments to Himself, we read that He went to pray and this is all true, but we wonder just how much of the time that He spent alone with God involved a patient wait. Jesus gave us an incredible example of the power of waiting when His good friend Lazarus was pronounced dead.
John 11:5-9 (NASB) “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When therefore He heard that he was sick, He stayed then two days longer in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” Jesus answer, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
Such an odd exchange between Jesus and HIs disciples, but there are a lot of things happening in this one occurrence that we must understand, because it gives us some insight into what we’ve been told/taught is the way that the world works. Of course we all know that Mary and Martha sent an urgent message to Jesus about Lazarus, this had a time frame set up around it. Jesus responded to them in verse 4 that God was going to be glorified by what was happening with Lazarus. So immediately Jesus gives the entire situation over to God and by doing this He creates a new time frame, God’s time frame. He speaks this before He actually does anything. The emphasis that verse 5 places on His love for all the family members who were in need of His help shows us that absolutely NOTHING comes before God, not even those whom we love greatly. His next move is to wait. We don’t know what happened or what He was up to during those 2 days that passed since He received the message, all we know is that He waited right where He was. This was a power move of unmatched proportions. Not because He was trying to show off and really send the message of His Lordship home with a massive miracle; but because it reveals to us His continued need to submit to His Father’s authority; we can see that the wait is less about Jesus and most about God being the One and only authority. When He then makes the decision to go to Judea, He is met with His questioning disciples who are looking out for His best interests (once again, Peter) and displaying their loyalty to Him, which makes His response to them all the more profound. What His helpers failed to realize is that in that proactive patient wait Jesus ensured was at the forefront of everything He was doing, He became solidified in the plan that God had prepared and revealed to Him. He knew that He would be protected from anything/anyone trying to kill Him and He also knew that Lazarus was not dead, only that he died; no matter what kind of situation He would be walking into, at this point nothing was going to convince Him of anything otherwise; not even a tomb, embalming fluid, or wailing siblings. So how did He become convinced of all of these things? He did as Abraham did, He PATIENTLY WAITED.
This isn’t a waiting for someone to show up - for us, Jesus is already here just as He said after His resurrection in Matthew 28:20 (NASB) “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We wait not to find an answer to a problem, we wait because we already KNOW the answer which God is speaking to us even while we sit here reading this blog, we wait because this is how we take our faith to completion and we obtain the promises that are ours through Jesus. We are waiting on God’s movement which is based upon our declarations of faith, as He enters the situation in His beautiful timing as Ecclesiastes 3:11 so perfectly puts it. Understanding that this part of our promises fulfilled is not only productive, it is also and equally right on time. Unlike the tortoise and the hare, we actually have a chance to use our tool called patience to conquer the moment in any and every situation that we find ourselves in, after giving the entirety of it over to God, knowing that His timing is perfect and we are forever in good hands. In fact, we suggest that the only place a tortoise and a hare should even be seen together is on Halloween!