A few months ago, I promised a good buddy of mine that I would take him to Jenkins BBQ in downtown Jacksonville. I LOVE Jenkins. There is simply nothing like the BBQ sauce from this place. I am pretty sure my first solid food meal was a rib from Jenkins. Anyways, my buddy and I decided that I would pick him up around noon on a Sunday and we would drive down to get some rib sandwiches. We arrived at the restaurant at around 12:15pm and decided to use the drive-through lane. We sat…and we sat…and talked…and I rolled down the windows and shut off the car…and we waited and waited some more. In fact, we waited until around 1pm before we ever made our order. I am pretty sure it was 1:15pm before we drove off with our food. And you know what — we did not mind one bit. Apparently, the two cars ahead of us and the 5 cars behind did not mind waiting either. Why? Because IT’S JENKINS BBQ FOLKS! You wait for that. As we ate our rib sandwiches (and free slices of sweet potato pie), the last thing on our minds was how long we waited for this precious meal. I would even say that the waiting made the meal even better.
I am waiting on God to act in some miraculous ways in my life. And I feel like I have waited forever. Unlike the story above, I am counting the minutes and wondering if I should ‘pull out of the lane’ and look for other options. I know that what God will provide for me is the best case scenario for my life. I know that if I am patient, I will truly taste and see the Jesus is good to me and for me. But I want my miracle now. I grow impatient and the clock is ticking. I am secretly (though nothing is a secret to God) devising back up plans just in case God does not come through by a certain date. No hard feelings, but I will find something else to satisfy these deep longings.
Idolatry is the act of going to anyone or anything else other than Jesus for what we need. Idolatry becomes your plan when waiting on Jesus has taken too long. Those of us who have been in church for a while know better than to build altars to Greek deities or start singing love songs to money. Some Christians, like me, have a secret timer in their hearts. When God takes one minute too long to come through, we secretly turn to an inner ‘golden calf’ to fill our desires. From the outside, you wouldn’t know the difference. But on the inside, people like me could teach a full semester course on what to do when God makes you wait. I can turn to an idol quicker than Jenkins can make a rib sandwich (wait…that wasn’t what I meant!) To be honest, none of my other options have ever given me a great outcome. Whenever I choose idolatry, I always feel cheated afterwards. But I would rather have it fast than have the best right? Right…because we have all been there.
Advent is about the discipline of waiting. This season stands in direct contrast to finding the fastest check out line at Target, spending a few extra dollars on Amazon for two-day shipping, and maximizing every minute of this holiday season so that we can knock out that to do list. We engage the waiting not because we want to, but because we need to. Waiting becomes a discipline because by it, we are able to step away from our idolatry and golden calves to find the One who truly satisfies. “Advent-waiting” is disciplined waiting so that our spiritual and emotional pallets can mature in such a way that only the Bread of Life will satisfy us. The invitation of this season is to wait because waiting does the deep work of refining our desires. This is what is meant by the scriptural suggestion, ‘let patience do its perfect work’.
So while I am waiting on God to do miracles, God is waiting for me to embrace the waiting. It is not just about good things coming to those who wait. It is about waiting long enough to know what really is good and what is actually a counterfeit. So do yourself a favor and make the choice to wait. Wait as a discipline. Wait because by it our strength is renewed. Wait because those who do are never put to shame. This Advent season, actively engage the waiting and reject idolatry. Who knows…you could discover that what waiting for you is God’s exceeding, abundant and above.