“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
Recently our family spent a warm summer evening together at a lantern festival. For these events, participants gather at a local county fairground in a wide-open field with blankets, lawn chairs, coolers, and picnic baskets listening to live music until the sun sets. Each person is given a paper lantern to decorate with personal dreams, wishes, inspirational quotes, and doodlings. At dusk, tiki torches are lit and the excitement begins.
There is a small square fuel cell at the base of each lantern. Once it’s lit via the torch, the heat expands and fills the lantern to be released glowing against the night sky.
On the stage, the event organizers demonstrated for the crowd the correct way to light the lantern and launch. It wasn’t as easy as it looked, especially with a breeze blowing, so I quickly understood why fire departments were there as a precaution.
As the person on stage concluded instructions, he very firmly said over the loudspeakers, “Do NOT launch your lantern just yet. We will give the signal when it’s time. Be patient. I promise you, it will be worth the wait.”
And it was! It was breathtaking. Even though the music throughout the evening was themed otherwise, as hundreds of lanterns ascended simultaneously into the night, a soft quiet version of “Hallelujah” filled the air. And I thought, “Of course! What other word or song could describe the beauty of glowing light piercing darkness?”
I also thought back to the event leader’s final instructions not to go rogue and prematurely launch our lanterns with the promise that our patience would be rewarded.
Many times in life, it is so easy to want to jump the gun and launch our own desires and dreams on our terms. It may be a relationship, a new job, home, pregnancy, or even a certain career we are chasing. Sometimes it is wishing to fast forward through the bad times. The Lord in many ways encourages us to be patient and promises when He gives the signal, it will be worth the wait.
Much easier said than done, right?
One of my favorite poems is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. I love the positivity of how it reminds, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” So true, but human vision is limited, and even with the best of intentions and desires, I could find myself going in a direction not good for me, where God requires me to WAIT.
Dr. Seuss does not paint waiting in a very positive light. His poem continues to describe a confusing time when you’re headed, “I fear toward a most useless place, the Waiting Place…”
God does not see our times of waiting on Him as useless. They are times of teaching and growth. He promises that “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Quite simply, this formula promises that waiting on God = movement + stamina.
When we hit a roadblock or obstacle in the way we think our life should be headed, God encourages us to not be frustrated, knowing that “tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
Funny how the path to patience is preceded by the word “worketh.” Oh, how (my) human nature tends to avoid work when possible. But “let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:4). This seems to describe that this work (effort) in training patience to override my emotions and trust God entirely will eventually perfect me in His eyes.
The conclusion of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” cheers the reader to move mountains and be off to “Great Places.” It asks, “And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)” I like those odds.
But here’s one even better. The Lord has 100 percent guaranteed that, “Since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” (Isaiah 64:4). God has promised us that it all will be worth the wait.
End note: There are so many verses in scripture that speak of the value of waiting on God. Here are a few more to consider: Psalm 27:14, Lamentations 3:25-26.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.