When I became a Christian, I often wondered what people meant when they said they were “waiting on the Lord.” From my observations, it looked to me to be a very passive activity. So I asked people what they meant by “waiting on the Lord.” Most said that they were praying and waiting for the Lord to act in their lives.
The definition of a waiter helped me to understand what waiting on the Lord means:
- a person whose job is to serve customers at their tables in a restaurant;
- a person who waits for a time, event, or opportunity.
From this definition, it is obvious that waiting on the Lord is not passive, but very active.
Waiting on the Lord is actively watching for a time, event or opportunity to act for the Lord and then acting to accomplish his revealed will. This “watching” is looking at life through the lens of Christ’s active love. In this way of looking, the Christian is like a servant who carefully watches what his master is doing and who acts from his observations to facilitate his master’s work.
The servant’s attention is focused on his master; the works are not the focus, but are simply a means to relate to his master’s will. In the Hebrew Scripture, the “wait” of “to wait on the Lord” is קָוָה, which means to “bind together.” It is that to which one’s attention is bound. As servants of Christ, it is imperative that our attention is bound to Him, not to religious activities or works.
For example, some may love to study end-time events, but neither our study nor these events can reciprocate the love that God has for us. The Hebrew church largely missed the first coming of the Christ because He did not fit into their understanding of how events would unfold. By analogy, it may be a bit arrogant to think we have Christ’s Second Coming all figured out and then miss the Christ of this event.
A Christian may love to study the Bible, but this is nothing more than a means of communicating with Christ in a loving relationship. Worshipping, praying, preaching, singing, teaching, prophesying, evangelising, healing and any other religious activity, are all means of communicating in a loving relationship with our Lord, but they cannot be the focus – the focus must be Christ and it is on Christ that we must wait.
Waiting on the Lord is serving the Lord in whatever role he has chosen for us, in spite of what we want or think. It is faithfully discharging the duties of one who is called by Christ to serve in trial, hardship and persecution. It is being willing to let Christ teach us lessons of humility, reliance on our Heavenly Father, and even serving the best interest of one we might call our enemy. Waiting on the Lord is dying daily to what we think we need to have, need to do and need to say, and being a blessing to those God places in our lives, even those who would curse and abuse us.
Waiting on the Lord is definitely not passive or easy. It takes supernatural power to accomplish because it is far beyond the natural ability of the human being. It is a gift of God’s spirit.