• Richard Parrish

April Reflection by Richard Parrish -Should We Act or Wait?



READ


“You shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess.” [1]

“You shall write on them all the words of this law when you have crossed over, to enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.” [2]

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.”⁠ [3]

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I hope…” [4][Emphasis mine].

REFLECT


Are we to act or wait? That’s a question I often ask myself.


Those who know me know I’m diligent in keeping track of my projects. More than once, my co-workers have heard me say: “A dream without goals is a wish. Goals without time-frames destroy dreams.”


Dreams require action. Goals help us define “next steps” toward our vision. Without time-frames for our God-given purposes, we are inclined to drift and lose sight of the dream. That’s why I need reminders. My calendar is crucial to me because it keeps me focused. Placing “action items” where I can see them daily helps me stay on track with my goals — and God’s dream for me.


Dreams require action.


God had a dream for Israel: to deliver them from slavery and give them a land “flowing with milk and honey.” But God’s desire for Israel was not going to appear magically. It would require Israel’s faith, courage, and obedience.


I acknowledge: my “bent” toward tracking progress may be somewhat obsessive. Also, it can be annoying to others. I live with this tension. But I’m not apologetic for the sense of responsibility I have toward God’s dream for my life.


God’s dream always requires our acceptance and—involvement—with his purpose.


God gave Israel this amazing promised land. But Israel had to take possession. For Israel to realize the dream, they had to first cross over the Jordan. Then, they had to take ownership of the land. That meant they would have to fight battles, overcome discouragement, and remain faithful in obeying God’s commandments.


God’s dreams for us do not come true without resistance. There are battles before us that we must fight. There are times when discouragement wants to dominate our desire. And it always requires our faithful obedience to God’s commandments. Like Israel, God-given dreams require our responsibility to take possession of the vision. But the fulfillment of dreams requires more than action.


Dreams require waiting.


Throughout the Bible, we are called to action, but also, we are advised to “wait for the Lord.”

“Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on the destruction of the wicked.”⁠[5]

For years I wrestled with what I believed to be such a polarity between acting and waiting. Because I’m goal and action-oriented, I used to see “waiting” as an inactive process. It’s not!


To wait on the Lord is as critical as taking action. Perhaps, it’s more necessary. Here are just a few reasons why waiting is as essential as acting:


  • Waiting helps me remember whose dream it is. Like Israel, it’s easy for me to forget I’m to pursue God’s purpose, not mine. I can become so fixated on accomplishing what I think is best, or what I desire, that I exclude God in the process.


  • Waiting reveals my impatience. It’s easy for me to become annoyed because things are not moving as fast as I think they should. The Holy Spirit helps me see this tendency as I’m waiting, not acting.


  • Waiting on the Lord allows me to see the sinful nature that drives me to be in control. It re-connects me with God’s love for me and shows me how much He desires to release me from the pressures of taking over His job.


  • Waiting helps me remember God’s intention is always to transform me. My propensity to push for accomplishment and external success can overshadow the more profound desire of God’s purpose—to change me.


  • Waiting on the Lord renews, refreshes, and strengthens us. The prophet Isaiah reminds us: “…those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” ⁠[6]


Action without waiting depletes us of our strength. Waiting on the Lord brings refreshment to weary lives.


  • Waiting produces courage and produces hope. “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.” “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I hope…”


Waiting on the Lord is not a passive activity. It is an intentional act.


COVID-19 is doing its best to delay—if not stop— the dreams of many. It’s not a lack of desire or action. We must (and will) continue to act—while waiting. But this battle is more significant than a virus.


It’s hitting all of us on so many levels (economically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually). It will be helpful for each of us to remember: As much as “action” is necessary, “waiting on the Lord” is also a timely and decisive action we can take.


God’s dream for each of us requires us to maintain a spirit of faith, courage, and obedience to God’s purpose.


RESPOND


  • Do you speak with God regularly about His dream for you?


  • How are you avoiding taking sole ownership? Do you recognize God’s desires to lead you in discovering His purpose for your life?


  • Do you believe that waiting is non-productive? Why? Why not?


  • What areas in your life need changing? Are you willing to wait with God and allow His transforming work to take place?


  • Does your activity keep you from waiting? Why?


  • Are you in need of refreshment for your body, soul, and mind? Will you accept God’s invitation to “wait on the Lord?”

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Nu 33:53.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Dt 27:3.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ps 31:24.

[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ps 130:5.

[5] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ps 37:34.

[6] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Is 40:31.