I wonder what Martin Luther King Jr. felt when he said, "I've seen the promised land. I might not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight. We as a people will reach the promised land." The video of that speech indicates that he was worn out. He practically collasped upon finishing the speech. King knew the painful reality of waiting on God.
In Hebrews 11, the author says that many people of great faith died having not received the things promised. The author further explains that these individuals looked for a heavenly home. "Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God."
What does it mean to wait on God? Jesus waited 30 years to begin his ministry. Abraham was told he was going to have children that would be as numerous as the stars. He was also told that they would be enslaved 400 years. That does not really make sense. Abraham was over 100 when Isaac was born. Moses wandered in the desert 40 years with a careless group of people in order for him to reach the promised land. However, he died on the mountain having never reached the promised land.
My wife and I have still not sold our condo. It's been on the market for 7 months now. Last week I was thinking about how I'd cope with my condo never selling. What if I went on a metaphorical mountain and never reached my promised land?
Sometimes, as much as we pray and as much as we seek to be holy, things just do not work out how we want them to work out. Sometimes, life doesn't make sense. Sometimes, God doesn't make sense.
I like the model Jesus gives us for the time that we are waiting on our promised land. The gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus grew is wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and with men. Thats how Jesus spent his time waiting. What if the means is as important as the end? What if the relationships we cultivate and the lessons that we learn while waiting ultimately prove to be the end?
In the book AT THE WILL OF THE BODY, Arthur Frank writes about his experience during two near death experiences - a heart attack and cancer. While there are many great quotes from the book, my favorite occurs just after Frank's cancer is in remission. He no longer needs chemotherapy, his hair grows back, and he goes back to work. Reassured by his full head of hair, people from work approach him as though he had not been on the brink of death for nearly two years. He writes, "When hair grows back all is forgotten. But when all is forgotten, nothing is learned."
While I do not want to get robbed again nor do I want to lose thousands of dollars in real estate again, I DON'T want to forget the pain that has drawn my wife and I closer, that has caused me to appreciate wrestling with my son more, that has made me realize that I need community, and that has forced me to rest in my Savior's arms.