Waiting Patiently

“Waiting Patiently,” © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2017 Lynn Abbott

Sitting under the stars at a lovely Van Gogh-ish cafe, I observed a most unusual Labrador Retriever.

My husband, son and I had ordered what later proved to be the most delicious of pizzas for our evening repast.  Now, we waited.  My husband, ever the extrovert, attempted to engage other guests in conversation.

The charming setting, however, distracted me.  Particularly, the dog.

That engaging Labrador sat quietly next to his master, one table over from ours.  That’s nothing unusual in European cafes.  While living and working in England, I frequently dragged my pup to the local pub.

Nevertheless,  the owner’s actions surprised me: he tore off a piece of freshly baked, aromatic, Italian bread and placed it on the edge of the table.  The dog certainly did not miss the tantalizing treat.

I thought the man’s behavior a bit risky given that my dogs have always been eager to relish “people food,” and the lab appeared a rather large, canine specimen.

In other words, that dog certainly could lunge at any moment.   I understandably anticipated culinary disaster.

But the lab simply blinked.

He shifted his weight, but otherwise, he remained quiet.  Occasionally, the owner glanced over at the lab.   I noted that the pup eagerly observed his human.

That dog fascinated me.  His big brown eyes peered over the table edge at the apparently promised reward.  That  crusty piece of deliciousness was obviously meant for him.

Yet, there seemed to be an unspoken understanding between dog and master.  Although that “poster” dog for obedience training occasionally shifted his position, he left the bread alone.

That dog certainly could lunge at any moment.

I anxiously wondered when the owner would give the dog the “go ahead.”  Both dog and I waited ten minutes, literally an eternity in canine time.

Suddenly, the signal came.  And like lightning, the pup pulled his reward from atop the red-checked table-cloth.

“Did you see that?” I whispered to my son.

He nodded.  We shared a moment of mutual disbelief.  That dog and his master were nothing short of miraculous…

After all, such trust and patience in a dog certainly did not match any of my experiences with the canine kind.

Actually, it didn’t line up with most of my experiences with human kind either.

To be honest, I have never been patient when it comes to giving or receiving good gifts.  I struggle to keep secret the contents of a Birthday or Christmas gift.

For this reason, I tend to give gifts early because I’m so eager to see the delight on the receiver’s face.

Truth be told, I’ve been this way since childhood.

I certainly exasperated my mother more than once by opening gifts–my own as well as those meant for others–before the appointed time.

Uh, huh.  I upset many a “table” with disastrous results.

I have never been patient when it comes to giving or receiving good gifts.

Perhaps, that’s why I am especially amazed by David’s history.  As I have recently reread the book of Samuel, I have been struck by the extraordinary “wait” that David endured after being anointed by Samuel.

You remember the story, I’m sure.  King Saul had repeatedly disobeyed God; Saul failed to trust God and God’s timing.  What’s more, Israel’s first king failed to demonstrate authentic repentance when confronted about his disobedience.

The result?  God promised the kingdom to a young shepherd named David.  However, that promised gift did not immediately come to pass. Bible scholars suggest that fifteen years passed from the time of David’s anointing to his coronation.

Fifteen years?  He had to wait fifteen years for God’s gift?

Yes… fifteen years of agonizing wait; fifteen years of exile.

David waited for what  seems to me an “eternity” for his life’s purpose to be unveiled.

During those years, all hope  seemed lost, (1 Samuel 20:3).

In fact,  David endured years on the run, scraping out a meager existence marked by an ongoing need to hide from his murderous enemy, Saul.

David waited for what might have seemed an eternity for  his life purpose to be unveiled.

Was it easy?  David, after all, possessed great faith, right?

Sure ‘nuf.  But I’m not off the hook.

God has graciously included in His Word  David’s  Psalms, many that expressed authentic and heartbreaking questions during that trial by wilderness: “How long, O Lord?  Wilt Thou forget me forever?  How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?” (Psalm 13:1).

Yet, during David’s grueling wait, not only did God prepare the hearts of His people to receive David as king, but God also prepared David’s heart.  While on the run, David grew closer to the Master.

The same David who asked, “How long?” also penned, “But I have trusted in Thy loving-kindness; My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation,” (Psalm 13:5).

You betcha. Those years in exile cultivated extraordinary faith.

Sometimes, in His extraordinary love,  God  asks us to wait for His promise.  More than worldly blessing and far beyond any goal, success or good we pursue, God values our relationship with Him.

He longs to establish our faith in Him.  He orchestrates our life events to build in us a steadfast love for Him (1 Peter 1:6-8).

Indeed, if we allow “endurance to have its perfect result,” that discipline builds trust and intimate relationship–a miraculous and supernatural bond like no other– with our Master, El Shaddai (James 1:4).

And when the time is right–when all has been prepared in and for us–He then delights in giving the “go ahead.”

“Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow, “~James 1:17

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD,” ~ Psalm 27:14