Read: Luke 12:15-21; Genesis 7:16; Revelation 20:11-15
The old saying often proves to be true: ‘Good things come to those who wait.’
That resonates with me when I think about making pickles. The recipe we use recommends waiting four months prior to opening a jar so that the garlic and dill can permeate the cucumbers; therefore, when we make them, we wait until a cold day near Christmas to pop open a jar. Oh, the waiting is so worthwhile.
However, I recall a circumstance when both my husband and I were in agreement, and although we were asked to wait, there was no way we were going to do that. It was many years ago. We were on a plane, and the instructions for using the oxygen masks and the emergency exits had just been given. That was when a steward walked up to us and introduced himself. The instructions that followed were mind boggling to us. He said that if there were an emergency and deplaning became necessary, he would assist us off the plane after having first helped all the other passengers. We were to sit tight and wait for him. After he left, both my husband and I agreed that we'd grab anyone who had better vision than our own and get off that plane. When time is of the utmost importance, it's not good to wait.
The Bible recognizes both the beauty of waiting and watching for the Lord's leading and the danger of waiting too long and therefore missing God's opportunity. When we are going through a hard time, the psalmist tells us to wait on the Lord, Psalm 27:13-14, and James 5:7-8 encourages us with the same truth. As a picture of how we are to wait, James points out the farmer and how he patiently and with anticipation waits for the rain to come. Joyful anticipation.
How can we wait with joy?
1. We know that we have an ever-present Helper Who has promised to renew and strengthen us as we hope in Him, Hebrews 13:6; Isaiah 40:28-31. This Helper never becomes weary or runs out of wisdom. He is the Creator and the One Who renews us.
2. We know that God has promised to come back and set up a kingdom where everything will be made new and the King of Righteousness will be on the throne, 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-6. Oh, such good reasons to wait on the Lord.
Let's turn a corner and see the sorrow of opportunities squandered and the heartbreaking results of this kind of folly. In Luke 12:15-21, Jesus tells the story of a man who had it all. This man wanted for nothing; in fact, he had to do renovations to contain all his goods. He was secure with no thought of having to do anything but kick back. He had no thought about God and, in his thinking no need of Him either. Then we read Jesus' stunning words. The one the world admired, Jesus called a fool. What a picture of the truth that what is esteemed so highly by the world is so unimportant to the Lord, Luke 16:15. Jesus said that the man would die, leaving all he had worked for to others and have nothing to show for his life because he was not rich toward God, Luke 12:21; Matthew 16:26.
Let's broaden our perspective.
In Genesis 6, we read about Noah's being commissioned to build an ark. Talk about a huge job. He was to be the one who would build a place of safety for both men and animals. God would wait to bring judgment for longer than a century. What would the people do in response to Noah's preaching concerning what would happen? Would they grab hold of their opportunities to enter the ark of refuge? Or would they wait and scoff at Noah's words and strange actions? We know the answer if we have read the account in the Bible. Only Noah's immediate family believed and entered the ark. Everyone else waited to see what would happen--that was, until God shut the ark's door, Genesis 7:16. Then the offer of rescue was withdrawn. If you hadn't read the account in Genesis, wouldn't you think that someone would have grabbed on to Noah and said he wanted to go with them? Not even one took advantage of Noah's offer. They all waited too long.
Let's take a look into the future and view a judgment that we want no one to experience. It is the White Throne Judgment, and the Savior has no joy in pronouncing this judgment upon those who will be there, Ezekiel 33:11. In Revelation 20:11-15, we see people from all strata of society. The unknown and the famous will be there. Those who have lived in luxury while on the earth and those who have had little. Sadly, they will all have something in common. None of them will have turned their lives over to Jesus. None of them will have taken hold of the love and forgiveness each of us needs in order to be right with God, Romans 3:10-25.
In view of the day when it will be too late, where does this leave those of us who belong to Jesus? Let's think of the world around us as a plane that is experiencing serious problems. The ones who don't yet belong to the Savior need us to reach out to them and show them where the exit is. They might not know or believe that they are in danger of being separated eternally from God, and they might not believe our words. Yet, it is true, and if we believe what the Bible says, we will tell them, as God gives the opportunities, the danger of waiting. Why should they believe us? Because we too once were on that plane, and we didn't know how to find the way out. Since we know what that is like, may we hold out God's offer with humility and kindness.
This week, I heard about a comedian who has mocked Jesus, who now has been diagnosed with lung cancer. She has never smoked, and she is 60 years old. My prayer is that she will come to know the God Who loves her so much that His arms are open to her and that He longs for her repentance, Luke 15:20-24.
Lord, please give us Your heart for those who aren't yet a part of Your family.