“God utters me like a word containing himself. A word will never be able to comprehend the voice that utters it. But if I am true to the concept that God utters in me, if I am true to the thought in Him I was meant to embody, I shall be full of his actuality and find Him everywhere in myself and find myself nowhere. I shall be lost in Him.” – Thomas Merton
Waiting on the Lord can truly be difficult at times. It is one of the disciplines in dependence which we can wrestle with for a lifetime. Contemplatively seeking his presence, drawing near to his heart of purpose, and meditating on his word are activities we partake in as we wait. We attune our ears to the subtleties of his leading. Many times distraction and delusion crowd our minds while we wait. In the business of the world, it is easy to be hampered by a lack of stillness in our waiting. For many of us, we are used to taking charge amid ambiguous circumstances. We are used to being active and hoping God will bless those actions to bring about what we wish. We look for that moment of action where we must decisively step forward so the next stage in our journey can unfold. We exercise our efforts of control. We experience the anxiety of outcome. We question purpose and revel in doubt. We flail about, tossing and turning, wrestling and hypothesizing, pacing and posing until the moment where we finally give up and return to the contemplative experience of futility in trying to speed up the waiting process. And we try to be still and hope that He is God. In truth, we cannot escape the basic reality that God’s provision is that of perfect timing. He is not in a reactionary position to the events of the world, or even us for that matter. His timing is perfect in his omnipotence and omnipresence. He is sovereign over all things; even in our waiting. He is neither early nor late. His grace comes not too soon, nor past the point of need. The waiting is ended by the exact moment for the good of his purpose, and his results quickly come to fruition.
The bible is rich in experiences of waiting and God’s fulfillment. David in his exile before kingship, Israel and it’s 40 years in the wilderness, Ruth in her discipline of faithfulness, Jacob and his labor while he waited for his beloved Rachel, Joseph and the time in the pit that preceded the palace; God’s faithfulness and provision are always experienced through the crucible of waiting. But when his timing is perfect he is quick to act. Waiting is a pivotal part of God acting in the lives of his people. In the waiting we are stripped of our ideas of power in and of ourselves. We become utterly aware of our true dependence upon the Almighty. We cry, we praise, we hope, we pray – we allow the Father to cradle us in his arms as we listen to his voice. And then he speaks… and change comes like the daybreak. Peace comes like an overwhelming flood. The heavens part, the temple shroud rips from top to bottom and the fountains of the deep break open. In the perfect moment of all circumstance, his provision is revealed and his power is illuminated.
This is a recurring experience in the life of Joseph. Again and again he was asked by God to wait, and the timing of the Lord was exact in Joseph’s experience. From the pit to Potiphor’s house, from prison to the palace; God orchestrated the timing and Joseph was faithful to wait for the moment of his action. Had the Lord taken Joseph from the pit to the palace he would have been early for the effectiveness of his use in his position. The timing was perfect for the preservation of people in regards to the famine that would come to the land. God’s synchronization of innumerable specifics was perfect for the outcome of his will. The timing of when Pharaoh’s heart would be open, the interactions of interpreting dreams, the excellence of the faithful servant of the Lord being the mouthpiece of provision for his people, the reconciliation of Joseph and his brothers; God’s multifaceted perfect plan is ever propagating those he has called to his service, to the most effective places of their experience and action within the human existence. Joseph waited two years after he interpreted the dreams of the butler and the cook, for the God to bring the dream of famine to the Pharaoh and for the butler to remember him. But in that moment, he was elevated from prison to the high court of Pharaoh, charged with the responsibility of provision for the entire nation. In the waiting Joseph was faithful, trusting in the provision of the Father. He continued in his circumstances to find God’s interaction all around him, and he was not dismissive of the provision of the Lord, even in his waiting. He continued to seek the Lord and rely on his preservation and sustenance; and God was faithful. He did not contextualize God’s power in the circumstance of his experience. He knew the Lord to be holy, just and powerful even in the moment of wrongful accusation by Potiphor’s wife. He knew joy after more than twenty years of waiting for reunification with his family. Though they feared his vengeance, he welcomed them with the knowledge of the purpose of God through their intention to bring harm. He was long in waiting, but the Lord’s perfect timing brought reconciliation.
In our own battles of waiting and rejuvenation, we can be encouraged by Joseph and his experiences of God’s provision. His timing is perfect. He is never late. He is never early. He keeps all the balls in the air and aligns them at the exact time for the fulfillment of his purpose. When we find Him and relinquish our demands to his perfect timing, we know the peace of his preservation and the trust of his precise endowment of grace. Whether we are in the pit or the palace, we are there at the perfect will of the Father, who places us where we can continually find Him and reflect what we know in Him to others. We can be content in our experience of Him, our trust in his sustenance, our relinquishing of our agenda to be engulfed in the power of his purpose. Even when we do not understand (especially when we don’t) we can take comfort and refuge in his promise of provision. He is faithful. Know that God is working in all situations and bringing about good. Know Him in the waiting; depend on Him – He is faithful. Lose yourself to the God of the Ages who is perfect and sovereign. He is bringing you to the palace; be prepared. Know Him, abandon your will to his; and when the time is perfect, you will hear Him and you will know the glory of his faithfulness.