Years ago, when I was still a campus minister and spent “office hours” talking with students in local college coffee shops, I bumped into a casual acquaintance that I knew through a mutual friend. I had heard that he had, some months before, placed his faith in Christ and had experienced a radical transformation in his life. He was evidently now a serious student of God’s Word, a passionate sharer of the Good News that had changed his life, and an active exhorter for other Believers.
The power and wonder that had entered his life were amazing and profoundly impacted his character. He had already been a “good” student and respected athlete, but his focus and passion had been placed solely on his personal goals for success, popularity, and pleasure. Then, when he met Christ (through trusting Him as his Savior), he took on an entirely new focus: that of pleasing his God and walking in fellowship with Him.
On the occasion of our meeting each other that morning, we struck up a conversation wherein we discussed some of the new turns his life had taken and the new treasures of the Word that he had discovered. When our talk turned to what he was doing that morning, he mentioned that he was there to meet with another student who had just come to Christ a few days before; they were to read the Bible together, pray, and talk about how to turn life over more fully to God and to apply their lives more fully to the truth of His Word.
At one point, a look of irritation crossed his face and he looked over at the door. I asked him what was wrong and he replied, “We were to meet ten minutes ago; he’s late. I’m not sure that I want to meet with him if he’s not going to take it seriously.”
I looked at him and thought for a moment. Then, politely and with an effort to not sound condescending, I asked him, “Aren’t you glad that Jesus hasn’t dealt with us that way?”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, I can honestly say that there have been times in my life when I haven’t taken God as seriously as I should have. And I’m fairly certain that I’m not taking Him even now as seriously as I should, even though I tend to think that I am taking Him seriously.”
“Well,” he said thoughtfully. “I just meant that if it isn’t important for enough for him to be on time, then it isn’t important enough for me to take the time to wait on him.”
“I can understand that,” I answered. “And I certainly can’t say that I know that this is a situation in which you should wait. But how long did Christ have to ‘wait on you’ before you repented of sin and received Him as Lord? And how long will He have to wait for you obey promptly every leading and command He entrusts to you through His Word?”
He pondered that a moment with an inscrutable look on his face, and I was concerned that I may have said too much. I deliberately turned the conversation to how his classes were going, about which we “small-talked” for a few minutes.
After a little while, he excused himself and left, his appointment never having shown up. I moved on to visit with some other students I knew, before I had to leave. It turned out that the student for whom my acquaintance waited had simply been detained by an instructor. He arrived, but he arrived too late for his meeting.
In reflecting upon it, I am glad for the knowledge that God does indeed wait for us, as He instills within us the capacity to comprehend in at least a miniscule amount our desperate need for Him.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live…” (Isaiah 55:1-3a ESV).
Envision Jesus waiting for you, a soul for whom He died, as you busily live a life built around your own plans, agendas, and dreams. Consider that, as He patiently waits for you, you continue to miss out on the one thing that would give your life lasting meaning and purpose, and grant you the serenity of knowing that you have a loving Shepherd Who will guide and guard you as you trust Him.
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7 ESV).
It occurs to me that it is a dangerous game to play when we fail to respond to God with our trust and obedience. We are flirting with disaster whenever we sense His Spirit’s call in our lives, but put Him off until we have time or because we simply have other things we would rather do. I’m not suggesting a formula for interpreting what our “window of opportunity” may be in obeying Him; but I do know that we should never, ever take His grace for granted.
Still, we may take some comfort in knowing that God is patient with us and His patience with us, not to mention His omnipotent determination to achieve His will and plans for you and me, is untrumpable by our circumstances, which He Himself turn to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (see Romans 8:28).
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:9-11 ESV).
As far as “wait-ers” go, no one can top God. As far as “wait-ees” go, well, we leave much to be desired. But remember that while the patience of God is inexhaustible and there is no sin or blemish upon or within us that cannot be covered by the grace of Jesus’ blood, His perfect holiness and justice dictate that we respond within the season of grace. Let us each hasten then to turn to Him “while He may be found.”