The Holy Spirit Helps Us Wait

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Galatians 5:5 NIV

For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.

CONSIDER THIS

Baking shows are a big hit these days. We love to see the creativity that kicks in when beautiful cakes, breads, and sandwiches are made that reveal the craft of baking has been mastered. In baking, you can’t fake the “bake.” If the cake or bread was baked for the wrong amount of time, too short or too long, it just doesn’t turn out right. You can’t hurry the process, or extend it. The ingredients must be right—but the timing must also be just right. 

It’s been said that doing things right can provide a false sense that we are doing right things. Legalism can give us a sigh of relief when applied. But when the Holy Spirit comes, things don’t always move quickly, nor do they always provide the immediate gratification we desire. If God is not acting, or is not acting in the way we desire, we can find and follow a rule, stoke the fires of religious service, and feel quite satisfied that we are doing something technically right—even without actually experiencing the presence of God. We are getting the bread without the flavor, texture, and end results that would serve everyone best.

And that’s how religion can end up going wrong. Worship, spiritual activities, and disciplines can become ends in themselves, quick fixes that displace our need to wait on God when the good things he is always doing in the background are taking a smidge too long. King Saul did it when he had to wait for days for the prophet Samuel to arrive. When his army began to scatter, he did the thing that was technically “doing things right”—he offered a sacrifice. But it wasn’t the right thing to do. The right thing to do was to wait for Samuel to offer the sacrifice (1 Sam. 13:5-13).

In Galatians 5, Paul is having an issue with the rigid religious streak that is running through a few of the followers of Jesus. They are in a hurry to get outward conformity by the group to Jewish religious practice. They will breathe a sigh of relief if they do. 

In v. 1, Paul tells them that freedom is the reason Christ came, not to lead us into deeper bondage to rules that provide quick gratification and keep everything under the rule of our spiritual timing. He also says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (1 Cor. 3:17). Quick fixes put us in greater bondage to rules that hold no power. The Spirit will not have it.

They were trying to find salvation by following rules, and demanding that others follow the same rules to keep the whole system in glorious check. 

The Body of Christ in every generation has suffered with impatience. We are in a spiritual hurry, and hurry has many manifestations. But we are not in a hurry; the hurry is in us. For all the seemingly right reasons, we pursue wrong goals—like filling seats and feeling good about our social media share counts without doing the deep work of one-on-one discipleship. The hurry is within us—and the Spirit will resist it by not letting our hurry, ultimately, prosper.

The false hope that doing religion can provide deceives us into thinking we’re moving God’s agenda along, when the agenda we have been moving along is actually our own. Paul comes to v. 7 saying: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” We must stay true to intimacy with God that is marked by the spiritual fruit of trust and patience. Without patience, we will be tripped up on the race and disqualified on our way to Christ. The Spirit will help us wait, with anticipation, for the final results that will come in God’s perfect timing.

THE PRAYER

Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. The hurry in me must come to an end, lest I lean on my religious practices without actually investing myself in growing in spiritual intimacy with you. Come, Holy Spirit, I welcome you to slow my heart down, empowering me to wait on you to bring your best results—in your time. In Jesus’ name, amen.

THE QUESTION

Can you identify with the idea that you are not in a hurry—the hurry is in you? What could you do to learn patience from the Holy Spirit?

For the awakening,

Dan Wilt

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Dan Wilt is a member of the Seedbed farm team. He has decades experience as a pastor, worship leader, teacher, and leader of creatives across the globe.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I believe that the deeper cause of our impatience is the lack of first denying one’s self. From the time of the fall, it is our human nature desire to be in control. We tend to forget that God is still in control and that His ways are not our ways; that His timing is not our timing, and that He alone can see the “big picture “. Patience is something learned; it comes from experience and trusting in Christ.

  2. In 2013 Kevin Watson posted an article on his Vital Piety Blog accurately describing why the UMC was failing:

    “What we are for isn’t good enough. It just isn’t.

    “In fact, I’m not even sure that within The United Methodist Church there is consensus about what we are for.

    “What horrifies me is that I’m not sure United Methodists are capable of coming up with a vision that meets the demands of our own faith. I am afraid we may have lost faith in anything other than ourselves.

    “…When we are most passionate, we are too often talking about what we have done for God, not what God has done for us.

    “It is not good enough to be in favor of doing nice things, even for God or in the name of God.

    “We are dying. And it is because we are not certain we believe the world needs Jesus. But if the world doesn’t need Jesus, it surely doesn’t need us.

    “The world doesn’t need us to do something for it. The need is far more desperate and devastating than that. We are not enough. We never have been enough, even in our glory days. The world needs – people need – a relationship with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    “Far too often, an agnostic theology is lurking behind our actions. At our worst, our service seems to be motivated by a sort of guilt about our privilege. It becomes a kind of bargaining chip, and a sophisticated one at that! We make peace with our affluence, or at least try to, by doing something for someone else every once in a while.

    “There is no hope for The United Methodist Church unless what we are for is adequate to the gospel that justifies our existence.” https://kevinmwatson.com/2013/02/12/what-we-are-for-isnt-good-enough/

    For me, the problem was never worship or the fact there were denominations with varying levels of accountability. The problem was none of their effort was focused on helping me understand God as somebody who was attempting to live with Him. Which I now know is strange for somebody who was taught that I am a Methodist.

    Methodism came into existence because, after hearing John Wesley speak, people approached him with the question “What does this mean for my life.” Wesley took time to sit down with them and attempted to answer that question and the rest is history: The Church of England, England and America were transformed because John Wesley first started answering that question for himself and then he guided others in pursuit of the same question. The point being, the only thing John Wesley ever set out to reform was his own life and that pursuit led him to unlikely places and impacted the world. At its best, Methodism is never been about transforming/reforming the church but rather creating a space where individuals lives are transformed/reformed.

    Currently too much of the church landscape–including at least one non-denom church–is too obsessed with making church attractive to as many people as possible. Based on the most recent survey they are not gaining any ground. If the culture is shitting to individualized spirituality, one only has to look at the church landscape for the answer. I am not against the possibility that there may once again be a church in my future, but I am in no rush to become part of the current chaos. God himself is going to have to make that happen. Too many people have a plan when what I needed was life!

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