37 billion hours—the amount of time experts estimate that Americans wait in lines every year. If you’re like me, when I read that, it evokes all types of feelings and none of them are good. Overall, I’d say, I dislike waiting. I think my kids would probably even say they hate to wait. An M.I.T. line expert named Richard Larson has concluded that occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time. I say, “Yep,” to Mr. Larson and wonder how much he was paid for his findings. Because we can all attest that when we are busy, time seems to fly by and as our hands slow down, so do the hands on the clock.
Our talk this week started in chapter 2 of Nehemiah and verse 1 reads-- “Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine.”
We learned Sunday that it has been months at this point since Nehemiah first heard about the plight of Jerusalem. Months since he was stirred in his soul for his city. It’s been months; and where do we find him? Being faithful in his everyday work while he waits for God’s opportunity to do what he is feeling called to do--- rebuild.
He was in a waiting space. I wonder if he disliked that God hadn’t opened the door for him to act, yet. I wonder if he hated that he was waiting. In his waiting time, it seems like he was dreaming and planning, as if Nehemiah had made it an active wait and not a passive one. As he kept himself occupied by preparing for what God had for him, maybe he didn’t even dread that season of waiting. (Thanks, Mr. Larson.)
If you are found in a season of waiting, we learned Sunday it’s a season of preparation. It’s a season for remembering that God is not slack concerning His promises in your life. To see the waiting, not as a holding pattern but as a purposeful place. Use it to grow. To learn more about Him. To purify yourself and strengthen your belief as the road ahead will be full of adventure but also challenges and your belief in Him that grew in the wait will keep you strong.
I loved this quote from Blake on Sunday, “It is mostly in your everyday faithfulness that you will get God-inspired for what’s greater.” Because in that wait, Nehemiah just did his job. Moses was shepherding when God called him. Gideon was threshing wheat when God showed up. David was in the field when he had to come in from that everyday work to get his holy anointing to be king. Elisha was plowing a field when he got the call. Several of the disciples were fishing when Jesus redirected their entire lives. They were doing their everyday, faithfully, and God stepped in with a greater purpose.
In life, it’s become a popular thing to say things like, “I want to do something that gives me purpose,” or “I’m called to something greater,” and “I want to do something that matters.” I think there’s a generation that may even feel a little lost, because they haven’t figured out what that is yet. God is interesting in that He loves the small and insignificant. He loves to use the guys on the backside of a mountain that others write off while they are just doing their thing, counting sheep. He loves to find the people who are faithful in what they see as their “small” and then call them to what the world may term, “big.”
Like Jesus taught in Luke 16:10 and in Matthew 25:23, it’s the faithfulness in the little that releases us to larger. This kingdom dynamic is the very thing that rocked Peter and the disciples at that last Passover celebration sitting with Jesus, when he knelt and washed their feet. The Savior served in the menial. This kingdom of God is not about the Big it’s about the Little. It’s not about the Great, it’s about the Least. It’s so counter-cultural that it has to knock us off-kilter to get it.
If you’re looking for the greater purpose for something that gives you great meaning, throw yourself into what God puts in front of you. Do it with fervor and gusto. Do it as preparation for what’s next. Do it as unto the Lord, as it says in Colossians 3:23, with your whole heart. Do it right there, because God knows where to find you when it’s time. And that very thing maybe what He uses to propel you to your next. With Nehemiah, it was his faithfulness in serving that gave him the influence to leverage for the God-size dream.
Where’s your faithful spot?
Maybe today you can change thinking of it as little or unimportant.
If you feel yourself in a wait, maybe today you can choose to occupy your time in preparation.
I know Sunday was a great reminder for me. I can’t wait to hear from the next talk in Nehemiah this Sunday, 11 am St. Pete Shuffleboard Club, 559 Mirror Lake Dr.
If you missed last Sunday’s talk, you can catch up here.