My sweet wife reminded me recently about a contractor coming over to our house that morning. We didn’t know exactly what time, but we knew it was anytime between seven and noon! I went bounding up the stairs, threw on clothes to work outside, and then proceeded to wait where I could hear the door.
About an hour later, the contractor rang the bell, and we walked out to talk about the work.
What strikes me now, is the urgency with which I went bounding up the stairs! When we realize that someone is about to arrive, we are suddenly eager to be ready.
This has obvious implications for many of us depending upon our millennial view (when and how Jesus returns), but I want to address the reality of God’s activity in our lives every day. He is about to do something He wants to include you in. Our job is not to be the doer – we are not the cause or accomplisher of His activity, but the recipient and participant in His work through us.
Scripture says, “…They 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.” (Isaiah 40:31)
We often think this means to be more patient until God brings about what He is supposed to be doing for us. We are just hanging out until His appointed time, while He holds out until we are ready. Often people who hear that grace is our receiving and God’s achieving, and the result is a fear of passivity, as if we have nothing to do “but wait” like we are to be sitting on the couch eating bonbons waiting for God to pay our bills or fix our problems. That is NOT the biblical view of “waiting”.
When a bond servant – a member of their master’s house by choice who serves the family after his debt is paid – waited on the master of the house, it was never just being patient until the home owner was ready. It was loving attentiveness. It was eager readiness. They watched from across a room or even outside a door for any signal – a slight motion or single word for how they could serve the homeowner. This wasn’t usually authoritarianism, but a beloved and loyal servant eager to please. Consider the context…
An impoverished boy in desperate need hires himself out to a landowner to get his needs met and pay off debts, for which he could have been jailed or even killed. In Jewish culture, the landowner might take him in and give him the means to pay off his debts. Once all debts are paid, the servant might want to continue to live with and serve the family. If so, and if the homeowner agrees, the servant is marked – usually by a pierced ear by the master’s awl – not as an “indentured servant”, but as a “bond servant”. He is bonded to the family as a member by his and the master’s mutual choice. Accepted, taken care of, beloved; he eats with them, helps raise children, helps keep the master’s house and household in order. He enjoys the life of a family member, though he was not born to it and cannot afford or create that lifestyle himself.
He isn’t serving out of indebtedness, but has bonded himself out of love. He isn’t serving to pay back the landowner – he could never pay for the life he now has. He isn’t serving to earn more – he enjoys everything the family has. He is serving by choice out of love!
Now – back to the waiting… when the master signals, whether to fill a guest’s glass or bring in a gift or help an elderly family member or take care of anything in the owner’s home, the bond servant leaps. He is attentive and eager to serve out of this love, gratitude, humility, and joy.
The prodigal son yearned to be such a servant in his father’s house. Mary and Martha contrasted this attentiveness when Jesus was in their home – Martha turbulent with busyness and Mary attentive and available to Jesus. Jesus spoke of this love and mutual servitude when He said He no longer called disciples servants, but friends. Paul considered himself a bond servant of Christ, not a slave – serving whole-heartedly out of love and joy and grateful attentiveness.
My friends, out of the fullness of the sufficiency of God’s grace, we can afford to be about our Father’s business. He has met all our needs in Jesus Christ. He has empowered our authority within His family and the community around us to operate on His behalf. And – as Isaiah declared, those of us who by faith will attentively and eagerly wait upon the LORD, will renew (literally, “exchange”) what we lack for all He has. In this kind of waiting upon Him, we have our weakness exchanged for His strength, our lack exchanged for His supply, our weariness exchanged for His overcoming power, our faintness exchanged for His fortitude. And in so doing, we will soar as only He can lift us, not because of our effort, but our trust and attentiveness to God.
Will you wait attentively on God today? Will you live out of loving availability and anticipation of His grace? Will you receive what He has for you and eagerly embrace His direction for you? He paid your debt, not that you might owe or become a slave, but that you might be free to live and serve in the family of God!
This is love, that we would obey His direction and He will “come in and eat with us”, Scripture says; He will fellowship with us, He will partake in Life with us as we participate in His life and work in and through us. (cf. John 14:23)
This is loving obedience and divine participation to the praise of the glory of His grace… that we have been brought in, our debt has been paid, we have been freed, empowered, loved, and accepted.
And so we wait… in grace and intimacy with Christ.
Awakening souls to the spiritual reality of our Life in Christ!