Hurry Up and Wait – II

1And when the Pentecost season was completed, they were all together in one place. — Acts 2:1

I’m giving you a very short piece of scripture to think about this morning, because I think it has an important message. [When I went to save this devotional, I noticed that I had used the title before, on January 29, 2008, with a different scripture, but a similar message. I hope someone truly needs to hear this again!]

When I was in the Air Force, we had a saying that is probably common to all the services: Hurry up and wait! That’s what you have to do when you’re in the military. The problem is that other people aren’t prepared to wait for your convenience; you have to wait for theirs. In the view of those in authority, there’s no problem making a hundred guys, or even a thousand, wait all day as one by one they go through a ten minute procedure. You go and you wait. How long? As long as it takes.

There’s also another “hurry up and wait” that goes on in the military every day. It’s the process of training and being prepared for actions that may come at any time, and sometimes that you hope will never come. Those who man missile control facilities have to be prepared to go flawlessly through their tasks every day. They hurry to be ready, but they hope they don’t have to put it into practice.

When I joined the Air Force, I truly didn’t expect to get involved in that much excitement. After all, this was the early 80s, Vietnam was behind us, and how likely were we to get involved in something like that again? But in the end I would up with ribbons representing Grenada, Panama, and then the first gulf war. Today it still feels a bit odd saying “first” gulf war. We certainly had hoped our little war would be unique!

When these wars happened preparation was important. When I volunteered for exercises related to the middle east, I didn’t realize how soon they would prove useful. What happened during the waiting time became critical to what happened when something actually happened. Exercises and training can be boring. Much of one’s time in the military is spent being ready—not in the doing, but in being prepared to do.

Picture the disciples on the day of Pentecost. It’s about 50 days since the resurrection, and where have they been? Well, some of them took time off to go fishing, but generally they’ve been waiting. Waiting and preparing in prayer. They’ve spent the time in between getting ready to receive those tongues of fire that are about to descend.

In our Christian life, we have both times of waiting and times of action. What do we do with the times of waiting? Do we pace the floor impatiently? Do we complain about the time of waiting? Do we head off and do something other than what God has called us to do?

Or are we willing to hurry up and then wait—for God?

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