There’s something here in Uganda I have yet to get used to, with limited hope that it will become the norm for me. “What is it?,” you ask. Well, it is what we Westerners commonly refer to as “African time.” If you invite someone to your home but you want them there by 4:00 p.m., you better at least say 3 o’clock. If you are heading to a wedding reception that says it will start at 5, expect at least an hour or two delay. You can also anticipate that the events you attend will take much longer than what you had assumed. As a person admittedly controlled by time, not just with the impulse to be on time, but rather the obsession to make sure I am early enough to not risk being late, I have struggled with this adjustment. It is not a bother for me to wait on anyone, but when I have made a commitment to be somewhere and my arrival is dependent on someone else, I think I lose a couple years off of my life when we are going to be late. It just so happens that Christ has taken this weakness of mine and made it the parallel to what He has been teaching me lately.
I am absolutely dependent on Him to get to the right destination, at the right time. I have tried to go ahead on my own, find the place I thought I was supposed to get to, and even willingly wait on Him there to see the promise fulfilled. However, He wants me to wait on Him before taking off. He wants to go together.
Let me give you an example. I am so wired this way that as soon as I arrived in Kampala I tried to find a place immediately, even prior to moving, so that I could begin my ministry as soon as possible. I was even frustrated that God would lead me to move and not provide all the necessary things right away. So, I jumped on an opportunity to lease an apartment that turned out to be fraud. I learned a lesson in that but I somehow still did not want to wait on Him before setting off again. I wasted time and money with broker after broker just hoping to find a place where I could settle. It was after a long and tiresome day of a guy taking me all over the city, showing me unrealistic options, that I came home exhausted and discouraged. It was in that moment that the Lord provided unexpectedly and out of nowhere. It was that point of being at the end of myself, that place of letting go of control, where Jesus jumped in to take the wheel.
You would think I would learn to wait on Him after that, right? I am shaking my head in shame as I type this because no, I kept trying to go at it alone- thinking He would meet me at the goal, or at least “my goal.” I kept pursuing solution after solution for circumstances surrounding me, especially with those I am discipling, just thinking that one of my ideas would work. My self-crafted answer for them would surely break the chain of their situation. I would give a perfectly reasonable explanation I believed would be the breakthrough they need, thinking God will use my solution and then He will get the praise because He actually did the work. This mindset has consumed me so much lately that the Lord actually had to physically restrain me so that I could stop, rest, and think. He allowed me to get an infection that weakened me for weeks. My only option was to be still, rest, and listen, reflecting on my inadequacy and inability, to refocus my sights on His sufficient ability. I had to recognize we cannot yet get to that next destination because He is still working in the present situation.
My flesh is so prone to wander and go my own way. I identify often these days with Sarah. She received a promise she at first laughed at but then chose to believe. She, too, tried to go ahead of God to get to that promise and destination, minimizing God’s purpose for the waiting, and ultimately making a decision that led to consequences. But, Scripture says that by faith she received the promise, because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise (Hebrews 11:11).
May those be the words that are said of me. That I don’t try to go ahead of Him, but that I trust, I believe, and by faith, His timing and destination will far outweigh the troubles and trials of the current situation. Because, in fact, there is purpose in the present. He is working in the waiting, and the promise will be fulfilled. He just has to gently remind me, just like Sarah, “Don’t try to do it alone. Wait on me and let’s go there together. It will be worth it.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.
He is worth the wait. He is working. He just wants a surrendered trust. So, I will wait on Him until He says, “let’s take hold of the Promised Land.” I know we won’t get there late, but rather, we will be right on time.