Loading… Please wait (Exodus 23:28-30)

 

Loading… please wait.  Oh, how I hate loading screens.  Nothing breaks up the tension of a climactic cut scene like seeing a loading screen pop up, taking you completely out of the moment and reminding you that you are playing a video game.  From playing classic games that required the patience of Job as the game paused to load every time I walked out of one room and into another, to every boring, static loading screen during a game installation, one thing never seems to change in the world of video games – we will always have to WAIT for something cool to happen.

We will always have to WAIT for something cool to happen

The new torture devices that have been inflicted on us as gamers are system updates and mandatory game installs, which for those who have not yet enjoyed this particular delight amounts to a placing a game into your system of choice and then waiting for your system to become capable of playing it.  Few moments in life compare to that glorious moment when you remove the plastic from your new game purchase, crack open the case and smell that sweet, sweet, new game smell, carefully remove the disc from its plastic prison with a gentle press of the center tab, and slide that disc into your console in eager anticipation of game launch.

And then it happens – the completely unfeeling notification from your console that your system requires an install or update in order to process the tasty gaming goodness contained on the disc you fed it.  And as you watch the loading bar slowly begin to fill, you realize there are actual important things you need to do around your home, and you decide to take this time to do something decidedly UNFUN while you wait, such as washing dishes or folding laundry or feeding your family.  Completely torn out of your enjoyment of the experience of loading up a new game for the first time, you are now back in the humdrum existence and responsibilities you were trying to escape from.  Hours later, after you have completed your honey-do list or tasks du jour, you recall that you had intended to have fun and you check on your system, which is now finally ready for you to play.  Only now it isn’t really the same, is it?  Now you skip through the opening cinematic you were eagerly anticipating earlier, you bypass the tutorial so you can get a few minutes of action in before its time for bed, and then you die five consecutive times because you have no idea what you are doing.  Disc tray opened, game removed, power off – enthusiasm lost and game relegated to the back of your library until your disappointment subsides.  Maybe next month.

Waiting is not a necessary evil – it is a necessary GOOD

If you haven’t felt that pain and frustration yet, I envy you.  But even if that has never happened to you in the world of video games, the reality is people by nature do not like to wait.  It’s not even that we always have better things to do, is it?  We simply cannot abide the concept of desiring something to occur and not having it delivered instantaneously.  Whole books have been written on the microwave generation, detailing all the ways we have found to eliminate waiting time and speed up natural processes for our convenience.  Rather than expose what we already know about ourselves (because I know you are already tired of waiting for me to get to the point), let’s take a look into the actual reasons WHY we have to wait.  I have always considered waiting to be a necessary evil – after reading the following passage in the Bible I have realized it is a necessary GOOD.

In Exodus 23, we find God and Moses conversing on the plan to invade the land of Canaan.  God has a very specific battle plan, and has personally promised his supernatural assistance in conquering the enemies that Moses and the nation of Israel would find there.  But in the midst of all of the rules, regulations, and listing of nations that I can scarcely pronounce, are stashed two verses that bear special attention, because it is here we find a critical nugget of knowledge that will help guide us in the solution we are seeking.  God tells Moses that the victory over his enemies will not be completed in less than a year.  Kind of an odd statement, huh?  I mean, God is all-powerful, and has quite recently established to Moses (see Egypt/drowning entire army in Red Sea) that He can wipe anyone out in one battle if He chooses to.  So it is certainly not for lack of capability.  Fortunately for us, God elaborates and His rationale is so simple yet profound.  He won’t do it any faster than that, because THEY are not ready for it.

He won’t do it any faster than that, because we are not ready for it

Let’s ponder this for a moment.  The reason we wait, is because WE are not ready yet.  In the case of the Israelite people, God gives them the very down to earth and uncomplicated explanation that if He gives them the complete and total victory too soon, the land will fall into disrepair and the wild animals will end up taking over the land, creating even larger problems.  They were simply unprepared for the enormous task of conquering and caretaking the country before them, so an understanding and all-knowing God decided to give them the land piece by piece instead.  This was incredibly surprising to me.  So many times I have prayed to God for certain opportunities, or what I considered to be needed material blessings, only to fail to receive what I had desired.  Since I truly believed what I was asking for was in the will of God for my life, it was an incredibly frustrating experience.  Didn’t God promise us that if we seek Him first He would give us the desires of our hearts?  But now a very basic principle has become clear.

See, God in his infinite wisdom will not give you what you are unprepared to handle.  If you have a three year old child, would you go out today and purchase them a new current year model sedan for them to drive?  Of course not – you realize that it will be many years before your child has need of independent transportation, and right now they would be overwhelmed with the gift.  The car would fall apart due to lack of use, depreciate in value, and by the time your child was old enough to finally drive the sedan it would be hopelessly outdated.  So you wait – not because you don’t love them, or because you don’t intend to give them a vehicle when they are ready for it, but simply because they are not able to handle the responsibilities of owning the vehicle at this time.  And would you let them drive the vehicle at three years of age?  It is preposterous to even suggest – you would be setting them up for a level of failure that would be fatal in your negligence.

We lack the ability to handle the full answer all at once

Our loving heavenly Father is aware of those very same circumstances in our lives, and sometimes He must answer our prayers little by little, not because He lacks power or sympathy, but because we lack the ability to handle the full answer all at once.  When you wonder why God hasn’t saw fit to give you the job you feel you are ready for, the relationship you have been craving, the house of your dreams, or whatever else has captivated the desires of your heart; realize that it is not that you have done anything wrong, or that He doesn’t intend to give it to you when the time is right.  Jesus explained in Matthew 6 that God is both a superior parent and the giver of perfect gifts, giving us the promise that if we seek God first He will give us all that we need.

In the case of the nation of Israel, they were simply not prepared to do all of the caretaking the land would require, and would need to grow both in size and skills to handle the challenge.  And forty years later, once they were ready, they began their conquest of the land and subjugated it with God’s help just as He had promised.  They simply had to wait until they were ready.  In the case of my video game loading screens, the truth of the matter is the system updates serve a very useful purpose – they contain security updates that can protect me from account theft, they give my system new capabilities which once installed give me applications beyond what I had expected, and ultimately I end up with a superior gaming experience for my patience.

It is actually God waiting on US

We will never enjoy the act of waiting – it will always feel unnecessary, unwanted, and unappreciated.  But we can at least take a step in the direction of understanding its reason for existing in our lives, and accept the reality that waiting on God is not a purposeless waste of time.  To the contrary, it is actually God waiting on US.  He will never overload you.  You may want that new job, but God knows the additional money will not offset the time you spend away from your family.  You will still wish God would make that special someone notice that you are there for once, but He knows that you have some loose ends to tie up before you are truly ready to take on all that the new relationship will entail.  It is actually proof of God’s kindness that He is showing when He makes you wait for the perfect timing.  We may never understand, and we will surely never fall in love with the waiting process, but we can take heart in knowing that it is all a part of a deliberate plan for our benefit.  Ultimately, we will get to the Promised Land, just as Israel did.  And eventually I got to sit down and play the game I was waiting for, because all firmware updates finally do come to an end.  And you truly will get what God has promised you, in the time you are ready to handle it, and it will be all you hoped for!

 

 

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