Waiting is not easy. I’ve said that here over and over again. And as we saw, God expects us to be working as we wait. If you were a shepherd when God called you to be king, you continue doing so until the time to be a king comes. That much we already know.
And as you continue being a shepherd awaiting for the throne, there are a few things I’ve learnt that can make waiting easier.
1. Stay focused
Imagine looking after sheep year after year knowing clearly that God anointed you to be king?
Imagine making tables and chairs for over a decade knowing that clearly you are the son of God and the Messiah the world is waiting for?
Imagine reviving sexual activity with your 80year old wife, because God said He would give you a child with her, and after a decade, no son yet?
Our human reason will start doubting the surety of that word we were given. Did He really say I was going to be king? I mean that prophet was quite old when he anointed me, could he have anointed the wrong person? Did God really say that child was to be with Sarah? Si maybe a younger woman will do?
And to avoid either giving up on God’s word or taking shortcuts to achieve it, you stay focused on the promise. Even when our circumstances seem ridiculous compared to the promise given.
Imagine God promising to deliver Jericho into your hands. What are you supposed to do as you wait for the victory? You walk around the city.
And as some preacher I was listening to way saying, the beginning of a matter is very exciting. Look at newlyweds. Or parents of a newborn. Or form ones. Or new employees. You take everything that comes excitedly. You do it vigorously and with psyche.
Abraham was not that discouraged after 2 years of waiting. He knew God would come through still. But imagine 10years down the line, the hope starts fading away with time. As Wanjiru Kihusa was saying, its the small things over time that make us doubt God, not the big challenging problems we face at once. If you face a disaster, you’ll look unto God as your fortress. But if God already gave you His word, you have nothing to cry or complain about. But waiting for it for a long time could see you even forget He gave you His word.
I’m sure the Israelites were excited to be going round a city on the first day. If it was today, they must have tweeted and instagramed it. #obeyingGod, #goingroundacitymanenos #victoryisours. You can imagine the excitement they slept with that day. The next day, maybe not as much but still some gladness to know God is handing them victory. But they now start noticing the weather. By the third day, some feel lazy and start questioning whether this is really necessary for the victory. By the 5th day when they are being rained on as they go round the city, unless they stay focused on the prize by the end of the Laps, giving up thoughts will definitely start crossing their minds.
Same thing happens to us. To avoid giving up or giving in to depressing thoughts, our focus shouldn’t be on the futility of what we are doing right now. It should be on the prize or promised word. Think about it. Internalize it. Celebrate it. Thank God for it. It may not be here yet but God promised you it would come.
Staying focused doesn’t mean not living in the moment. It contrary means living fully in the moment knowing the end goal. Its like practising for a game.
In high school I had a classmate and a friend who used to play basketball. By the time we were in form two, the team was among the top 3 nationally. So when they practised for the interschool games, they knew chances of them being number one in the country were extremely High. But those games start from the local zone, then those who win proceed to fight it out in their districts. Then to the provincial level. To the national level.
She was not particularly thrilled to be in class reading like some of us. Like besides a few lessons, if you looked at her during class time, she didn’t seem excited about life. But wait till the last lesson of the day. She would wake up and look animated. Why? The practice session would be in a few minutes time. It didn’t matter whether it was first term, second term or third term. They practised all year long as far as I could remember, not just the competing season like the rest of the teams competing in various games. The practice sessions were the highlight of her life. Yet, the national games were the climax.
So as much as her focus together with the rest of the team was on winning the national games ( which they did till they went to compete in international competitions in the US), they enjoyed every single bit of every practice session. Their focus on the prize made the ‘now’ moment really worthwhile.
2. Prepare for combat
As a king, you face many problems of a big magnitude. People want to overthrow you, other nations are attacking you, there are factions in the kingdom that need to be united lest civil war breaks out, people need affordable food,they need jobs, they need stability among other things.
And as a shepherd, those are not the kind of problems one encounters, which is why, while being a shepherd you need to be mentally prepared for future responsibilities lest they overwhelm you when God’s word finally comes to pass.
We see this perfectly in the carpenter promoted to Messiah. You notice we don’t see Jesus jumping up and down after his baptism which doubles up as His promotion party. We don’t see Him giving speeches as how He always knew He had it in Him, or how He is Happy to be successful 40 under 40, or how honoured and humbled He is that God has chosen Him among the thousands that were vying for that position.
Instead, He acts like its another day in a carpenters life and gets down to work immediately. Why? For all those years he was a carpenter, he never lost focus on what God’s word over his life was. He internalized it. Meditated upon it and prepared himself for it.
You may not prepare yourself physically, but you do it psychologically and emotionally. For example, Jesus keeps on quoting the word of God. We don’t see Him rushing to buy a scroll the minute He is anointed. He prepared. He knew the word of God would be necessary for his future role, so he internalized it way before he came to the limelight.
Same thing, God calls you to be a musician, it might be a little too late practising to sing when the limelight comes. You do it while waiting.
We arm ourselves with the armour of the Lord way before time to fight comes. You know the word of the Lord and grow your faith when its peaceful. Because its hard practising when the time for war comes.
You notice that the Israelites had to kill the people they found in Jericho after the walls fell down. Those days when they were walking around the city were the appropriate times to sharpen their swords and repair broken shields. Not on the day the walls fell down.
At times, its not easy to prepare especially if God hasn’t revealed details of the future. So instead of asking God to change our circumstances as soon as possible, ask him, ” what lessons can I learn while in this period? “. And probably, those lessons will come in handy in your future.
3. Prepare for Victory
Prepare a dancing song. Prepare your shout. Prepare your heart to be grateful.
And this is more of an attitude rather than actions.
When Jesus went to where Lazarus’ body was kept, he wept. And then something interesting happened when time came for Lazarus to come back to life. He thanked God first for hearing him. This puts his state of mind in a state to receive whatever it was that he was asking for.
Preparing for victory, means we don’t walk around the city of Jericho looking defeated. We don’t live our single lives in perpetual sadness. We don’t spend our jobless days in pure agony. We don’t stay on the hospital bed looking dead already. We don’t face our oppressors looking like we lost already. We don’t stay in our current positions as if that’s our portion forever.
Instead we position our minds for victory. We say ” father thank you that you hear me” even when Lazarus is still dead. We hop on the fifth lap even when Jericho’s walls still hold ground. We get intimate with Sarah knowing if its not today it could be tomorrow. We do our jobs right now faithfully knowing that our future positions require faithfulness.
Preparing for victory means still being in Egypt and eating while standing up and your belt fastened. You don’t know what God’s plan this time is after using frogs, darkness, gnats and hailstorms as His fighting strategy before, but you prepare to win regardless of what your role will be in the victory.
At times I postpone thinking about good endings. I mean, this is earth, not the world all fairy tales are set up in. I live each day practising what the world says; hope for the best and prepare for the worst. But here I’m told differently. Prepare for combat and prepare for the best. They go hand in hand. You prepare for both.
Have you ever wondered why God kept on telling the Israelites about the Land they were going to? He even gave them vivid descriptions. A land flowing with milk and honey. Told them the way they would settle in houses they didn’t build. Si He could have just told them He is taking them to a nice place? But instead He goes all the way. Instead of saying a Messiah is coming, He goes all the way and describes how he will look and even die.
Its because preparing yourself psychologically for victory is a prerequisite to enjoying your time when waiting ends. Its a step we can’t afford to jump. If we skip it,we’ll end up being sour winners. You know those people who achieve something and instead of appreciating it, all they talk about is how hard the journey was? And the scars they have and the pain they left..I bet you never want to spend a second longer with them yet they won. But wait till you meet a happy winner, they’ll even make fun of the struggles they went through. Not to downplay them but they appreciate the victory that came out of it. Plus its now over anyway.
Imagine if when Isaac did something wrong, her mother went into, “unajua venye tulikungoja wewe na unafanya hivi?” ( how can you do this and the way we waited for you?). Instead, if Sarah had prepared for a baby psychologically, they would treasure him for he finally came after a long wait.
Notice, the moment you focus on the victory, your pain doesn’t matter anymore.
Those three factors may not make waiting exciting, but they make our stay in this plateau called Waiting way better.