Hurry Up and Wait

During my days in the Army, many times I had the familiar experience of being told I need to wake up early in the morning, pack up all my gear, conduct personal hygiene, have breakfast, and then wait for further instructions. This would often be in preparation for a deployment, a field exercise, an overseas assignment, or perhaps taking a space-available flight for vacation, otherwise known as a “hop.” In all instances, I remember feeling a great deal of pressure to get through all the preparation steps and be standing by as quickly as possible for someone to tell me what to do next. This affectionately became known in the military as “Hurry up and wait.”

What some service members found comical, and sometimes quite frustrating, is that we would wait for several hours for that next set of instructions to come. Making matters worse, the holding area where we would wait was often devoid of any kind of entertainment (music, television, games, WiFi, etc..) and had sparse food or beverage available. In most cases, we would only have the water in our canteens and a Bible the Chaplain had given us on the way to the holding area. Due to these limited resources, many people would often spend this time sleeping. They’d lean up against their gear, or their buddy, and wait several hours until further instructions were given and the waiting was finally over. They made the time pass, but I would argue they didn’t use it very productively.

However, I and a few others always looked forward to this time of “hurry up and wait.” Since all I had available was my Bible and water, I decided to make the most of my time. I would think about the mission in front of me, that I was waiting to embark on, and all the concerns I had related to that upcoming experience. I would then look for Scripture verses that helped to give me comfort and I prayed that God would never leave my side, no matter what. I would write down a few of the Scriptures that resonated the most with me and put them in my pocket. When the journey finally started, and the waiting was over, these verses would be a reminder to me of God’s promises and that He would be faithful. For example, before leaving for my deployment to Iraq, God directed me to Joshua 1:9 which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." This verse reminded me that although I didn’t know everything which would occur in the days, weeks, and months to come, God is faithful and will bring me through to the other side.

As we begin this new year, many of us enter into a time of prayer and fasting, which for me seems quite similar to the experience of “hurry up and wait.” We often give ourselves sparse food and limit our entertainment, for the purpose of focusing on God. Yet, our flesh wants the experience to be over with as soon as possible because it is uncomfortable. Much like soldiers waiting on a mission, some people spend more time sleeping during a fast, as a way of dispelling hunger pangs and compensating for the limited entertainment. I would suggest, though, that Scripture gives us a better option. Psalms 130:5 says, “I wait [patiently] for the Lord, my soul [expectantly] waits, And in His word do I hope.”

We want God to show up right away and give us instructions for what He wants us to do next in the new year, or tell us how He’s going to solve our problems. I know from experience that waiting-- in the military or for God-- is not fun or comfortable, but it is part of the journey, and He is faithful if we trust Him. If you’re fasting and praying this year, don’t try to rush the process. Instead, enjoy the journey. You will be amazed with what God can and will do when you submit to His timing.

by Paul McCullough
Paul and his family came to Kingsway in 2015, after moving back to the United States from an overseas military tour in Japan. He has been with his bride, Heather, for over 20 years and they have been blessed with two great kids, Paul IV and Sarah. Paul is passionate about ministry, working full time at the American Bible Society and engaging at Kingsway in KLS, Growth Track, Next Steps, and LifeGroups. He enjoys spending his spare time reading, building nanoblocks, and watching great movies.

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