By Logan Nicholson
When we take a group out adventuring, we create a microcosm of the Christian walk and get a glimpse of how people react in various life situations. There is a group dynamic I particularly notice on caving days here at DM. As we lead a group through a cave and introduce them to the wonder of God’s underground creation, we often stop in a large room and have everyone turn off their lights. Then we stand or sit in silence so that the complete darkness envelops us. This opportunity to experience life at a low volume and listen for God’s voice rarely occurs in today’s world, and it is difficult for students to endure for even a brief time. Many times, despite clear instructions to stay still and be quiet in the darkness, someone will crack a joke--generally about flatulence, will squish their shoes in the mud, or will “accidentally” turn on his flashlight. As a leader, I ask myself, “Why? Why can’t they ever wait quietly?” I have come to the simple conclusion that we people do not cope well with waiting, especially in the unknown with a lack of control. When we find ourselves in a situation where we don’t know what is going on, we start to strive for answers and control.
I have long struggled with wanting to know exactly how God would use me: where He wanted me to live and work, whom I was to marry, and so on. Not knowing the future and not being content to carry on with the instructions already given, I tried to seize control and search out information for myself, running after whatever I thought was the best option. But life never turned out like I had hoped, and I always landed in a state of more confusion than I was in before. Patiently waiting for the Lord to do His work is a skill that I have yet to master, but one in which I am growing. I am finding that when I wait in stillness for Him, I find peace in spite of the turmoil of the world.
This trait is not peculiar to me or the groups who go caving, It appears throughout the history of humanity. Abram and Sarai knew God’s promise of a son, but tried to fulfill it in their own time on their own terms when Abram took Hagar and fathered Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-4). When the Israelites feared starvation in the wilderness, they determined they would turn back to Egypt (Exodus 16:3), and later they turned to other gods instead of waiting for Moses to bring God’s word off the mountain (Exodus 32:1). Then there were the Pharisees of Jesus day who tried to attain perfection through the law rather than accept the One of whom the law testified.
I think of the night Jesus was taken to be crucified. He went into the Garden to pray and asked His disciples to wait, but they fell asleep. Then he was betrayed and they tried to take Him away. In spite of all Jesus had told His disciples about what was to come, Peter took matters into his own hands and struck the servant of the high priest. During Jesus’ trial, Peter denied his Savior, not understanding that it was only through taking our punishment on Himself that Christ could justly grant us pardon. (Mathew 26:36-28:20)
You see, in those times when we are tempted to move ahead of God, trying to take matters out of His hands, we will be amazed if we simply wait and see what He has in store. That student who was so uncomfortable in the cave experienced authentic worship when we sang together and praise reverberated through our underground cathedral. When I waited on the Lord, God brought me to a ministry where I can joyfully use the abilities He has gifted me with. God gave me a wonderful wife and two sons whom I couldn’t have imagined. And, on that Sunday morning when the stone rolled away from the tomb, Israel’s vain attempts to run ahead of God’s plan were shown to be so foolish. In the days that followed, Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples. They once again left their nets behind and began exercising their kingdom mission with a zeal that never faded.
Maybe the next time you find yourself waiting, looking for what God is going to do next and beginning to rush ahead; stop and remember what you were instructed to do with this time and faithfully do it. God will move in His time. Just wait and watch. Waiting does not mean that nothing is happening. It may be that you are unable to see His will unfolding because it does not fit your definition of progress. God knows and works out the best plan, and yet His vast creativity can feel unpredictable to us. A composer writes a symphony and paints his musical picture, beginning with silence and creating beauty through the sound of the music. God sets the tempo of this life for a reason. Often that uncomfortable silence becomes the complement to a beautiful crescendo.
Come along side us as we journey in and out of the wilderness, discovering our Creator in creation.