Following Jesus Requires Waiting

The end of 2010 was simultaneously one of the best seasons for my family and one of the most challenging. That was the year that our family of five became a family of seven as we added our son and our daughter through adoption. Ten years later, we can’t imagine our family without them. They have been wonderful gifts from God.

However, the process of getting them home from Uganda was one of the most trying experiences of our lives. We got a call on Sunday, October 24, with news that we needed to be in Kampala, Uganda later that same week for our court date. We had exactly one day to book an international trip, come up with thousands of dollars we didn’t have, prepare to travel, and work out logistics for caring for our three children, all under the age of three, that we were leaving behind. And to top it all off, we had no idea how long we would be gone. My job at the time gave me two weeks, so we made plans for my wife’s father to replace me in Uganda if it took longer. It took longer.

Our court date was uneventful. We were granted legal guardianship on our first day in the country. However, we needed the judge to sign extra papers that would allow us to bring them home. We waited. Days turned into weeks. I returned home, and my wife’s father arrived. We prayed. We waited. We prayed some more. We waited some more. My wife missed her babies at home. We missed her and were eager to finally unite our whole family.

The most unpleasant experience of the wait was the feeling of complete powerlessness. We just needed the judge to sign the document. Did he lose it under a pile of papers on a messy desk? Did he decide that he didn’t want us to take them home? At one point I even considered sending him cash incentive. I’m glad I didn’t.

The promise of adoption had been made on our first day in Uganda. That promise would not be consummated for another five weeks. The wait finally ended on December 2, 2010, in the Cincinnati airport. That’s when our family became whole again.

No one likes to wait. It’s never anyone’s New Year’s resolution. In fact, we live in a culture that has achieved some success towards eliminating it completely. It is not uncommon to hear someone complain over the fact that their package that was shipped from the other side of the continent arrived in three days instead of two. We public emergency room wait times on billboards. Americans hate to wait.

When we get to the Bible, we encounter a problem: God seems to value waiting. In fact, based on Scripture, waiting is an essential component of Christian discipleship. Its fair to say that the life of faith is a life of waiting (see Abraham). To commit to follow Jesus is to commit to a life of waiting. If you don’t believe me, look up these passages: Luke 12:35-36; 1 Cor. 1:4-7; Phil. 3:20; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 9:28; 2 Pet. 3:11-12; Jude 21.

To be a Christian is to be a person who realizes that the solution to all of our problems is not found in products that can be purchased, elected officials, education, retirement, or even vaccines. To have faith in Christ is to realize that only Christ can ultimately defeat our greatest enemies of Satan, suffering, sin, and death. The Christ follower regularly prays, “Come, Lord Jesus.” The one who trusts in Jesus realizes that a promise was made on the first Christmas day that will not be consummated until Jesus comes back. We live between the two most glorious appearances in human history.

We wait, but unlike my wife and I waiting for the signature of a human judge, we wait on One who makes no mistakes and who gave himself for the people who wait on him. He won’t be delayed by a clerical error. He will return in his own timing, and he will fulfill every promise. Will you join us in waiting?

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