The guard stands in the tower, eyes cast downward, searching through the thick night for any change, ears tuned for any out-of-the-ordinary noise. He raises his eyes to the distant mountains, their peaks muted by the sameness of the sky. He leans against the edge of the window for a moment, but he cannot relax. He will not descend until the sun ascends.

sandstone tower
watchmen’s tower in the Middle East (c) Carole Sparks

Even in the deepest, loneliest part of the night, the guard never doubts the rising of the sun. With absolute confidence, he glances to the east for a moment, eager to catch the first graying of the dark sky, the first dimming of the stars. But he doesn’t need to stare toward the east, to hope and pray the sun will rise. He is not anxious even though the night was cold, the darkness foreign. He watches over the castle with absolute confidence that the sun will rise today just as it did yesterday. The sunrise may be a different kind of beautiful, but it is already on its way. He just can’t see it yet.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
 and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
-Psalm 130:5-6

Our culture has become so impatient. The internet provides information and entertainment in moments, but we complain because we want it in milliseconds. We demand immediate answers, express mail, and instant gratification. We participate in crash diets and get-rich-quick schemes. We buy our rice already cooked. (Yes, this one puzzles me.) We participate in speed dating instead of taking the time to get to know someone just for the sake of knowing. We binge watch our television shows because we can’t wait until tomorrow night—much less this time next week!—for the next installment.

In becoming accustomed to instantaneous, we begin to doubt those elements of life that take longer.

Like financial security.

And friendship.

And faith.

Watch your life and doctrine
closely. Persevere in them,
because if you do, you will
save both yourself and your
hearers. -1 Timothy 4:16

God isn’t on the internet. He is not Amazon. And even though Amazon knows way more about me than I like, God still knows me better. Amazon never makes me wait, even when it would be in my best interest to wait a few days. God often makes me wait because He knows waiting strengthens my character and molds my will to match His own as I watch for answers. He knows everything outside of me that must fall into place before my part comes into play. He knows when perseverance in prayer will bring Him more glory than a miracle today.

Abram (soon to be Abraham) had to wait a long time for a child of his own and for the fulfillment of God’s promise to him in Genesis 12. For years, he continued in faith, watching for God to work and obeying all the Lord’s commands in the meantime. The result was blessing for all people through Jesus, a far-down descendant of Abraham, but Abraham had to wait on the Lord to do it in His way, at His time. (For more on Abraham, check this post.)There was that bit with Hagar (Genesis 16) from which we’re still recovering, but nevertheless,

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. -Genesis 15:6

Blessed is the one who perseveres
under trial because, having stood
the test, that person will receive
the crown of life…
-James 1:12

In the Bible, perseverance is almost synonymous with waiting. To persevere means to endure through a trial, to wait for a resolution even though the waiting is difficult or painful. James likens perseverance to standing the test.

The guard in the tower must persevere through the night. He doesn’t slide to the floor, slump against the wall, and twiddle his thumbs until morning. His waiting is defined by standing and watching. He watches for the sunrise because its light means he can go home and rest, but more importantly, it means the castle remained safe through another night. He and the other guards can take a collective sigh of relief. At least until evening.

Waiting is not
“down time.”

Our waiting is the same: not a time of idle fidgeting, boredom, or restlessness, but a time of watching for God to work, of anticipating His coming action, and of praising Him for what we are confident He will do—what He is already doing behind the mountains, where we can’t see Him yet.

Are you waiting for God’s answer or for a fresh sense of God’s presence? How would you characterize your waiting: persevering or impatient?

What does it mean to “wait for the Lord”? On watchmen in towers and other waiting via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

The imagery in the Bible, especially Psalms, makes the lines come alive for me! What does this image of watchmen bring to your mind? How does it help you wait for the Lord?

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14 thoughts on “Watching and Waiting

  1. I just read this, and it fits so well!
    “It is on God that we should wait, as a waiter waits–not for but on the customer–alert, watchful, attentive, with no agenda of his own, ready to do whatever is wanted.” -Elisabeth Elliott, in Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity

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  2. “He knows when perseverance in prayer will bring Him more glory than a miracle today.” 🙂 Great message, friend! As a parent entrusted with a few wayward ones, I wait for God to bring light to their eyes, but my waiting is not restful. I’m that thumb-twiddling guard, wondering if the sun will, indeed, rise. Oh, and have you ever stopped the microwave a second or so before something is being warmed inside because you just couldn’t wait any longer? Yeah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have stopped the microwave early…but mostly because something is exploding inside! I’m not a good judge of those. Praying God gives you a watchful but peaceful waiting time. He is working behind the scenes in ways you can’t see and may not ever know.

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  3. Carole, A beautifully written post. I used to be more impatient. Now I think of a caterpillar in a cocoon. It wrestles and struggles as it waits to break free. If that caterpillar is released too soon, it will never grow wings and fly. I want to fly-so I wait.

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  4. Thank you for these images and verses about waiting Carole. When we were waiting for my husband to heal last Fall, I turned to nature. It helps me to be still when I listen to the sounds and seek beauty. Yes, I agree with you. Waiting is not idle, it is time to grow in the Lord. Blessings, Julie

    Liked by 1 person

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