I’ve been doing a lot of waiting this week.
Waiting for packages to come, people to call back, and for God to answer prayers.
In my garden, I’m waiting for a tomato to ripen to its peak. I could pick it today, but if I give it a little bit more time, I’ll have the most flavorful, juicy tomato possible. This weekend, it will be perfection.
It started when I filled my container box with gravel, then topsoil, and then finally rich, organic loam from my compost pile. After planting the seedlings, I watered them and waited.
Eventually, bright green fruits started turning orange. In my excitement, I picked them and allowed them to finish ripening a couple days on the counter. But then there were more than we could eat and I wasn’t in a hurry to pick them anymore.
Once I did harvest them, I had a whole bowl full of fresh, vine-ripened cherry tomatoes. There’s nothing like a homegrown, vine-ripened organic tomato. It’s hard to compare the burst of juicy goodness with anything you can find at the grocery store.
But the keyword is vine-ripened. As in, patiently wait for the orange to turn fire red before plucking it.
Waiting goes against human nature. If we can have it now, we certainly will.
Even the apostles had to have instructions to wait. Jesus “commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised…‘but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” Acts 1:4
Jesus told them they’d be witnesses all over their own country, and even to the “remotest parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8), so why not get started? God could have given them the Holy Spirit that minute, but He chose to wait. They must have wondered what the hold up was. I would have.
But God, who lives outside the confines of time and space, knew just the perfect day and setting to lavish the apostles with the promised gift. In Jerusalem, there lived Jews from all over the world, speaking all kinds of different languages.
The Holy Spirit’s entrance didn’t go unnoticed. First, a mighty rushing wind, and then the apostles spoke in languages they didn’t even know. As the crowd gathered, they wondered how it was that Galileans (and not even educated ones) could speak their own native language. God got their attention!
The apostles had doors wide open to do just what Jesus said: they became His witnesses!
“What must we do to be saved?” asked the Jews.
The crowd’s openness to the gospel and the apostle’s willingness to wait in Jerusalem resulted many being saved each day (Acts 2:47). God’s plan to grow the Church from Jerusalem was just a tiny seed, but the apostles needed to be where they’d be able to plant it.
If our lives are like that tomato plant, we don’t always see maturation as soon as we’d like. Or, we mistake the maturing process as already being mature. Don’t tomato blossoms look lovely? But if you’ve never seen tomatoes form at the end of each stem, you would think tiny flowers were all it could do.
Waiting times are hard, especially if we want to mature as believers. We see the promise ahead, but the fruit isn’t there yet. More than once I’ve punched through with what I thought was a ministry opportunity, instead of listening to God’s voice. Every time my efforts withered up and died.
This fall I’m setting out to study the first twelve chapters of Acts. How to really allow the Holy Spirit to lead. How to listen and wait. How to yield fruit by Holy Spirit power, rather than trying to make things happen on my own.
The quest for significance and affirmation sometimes drives me to step out too soon. But the truth I need to remember is that my significance comes from simply being a unique creation in God’s image. By myself, I can no more do good for the Kingdom than one of my tomato plants.
But allowing Him to cultivate as we grow under His power allows us to blossom and fruit abundantly. Until then, we follow the apostles’ example and wait.
Is waiting hard for you too? Was there a time when waiting was hard, but patience paid off in the end? Please jump into the conversation.