Have you ever played the game Red Light – Green Light? If not, here’s how it works: first, all the players stand side-by-side in a single line facing the person (let’s call him/her the ‘leader’) responsible for giving the ‘red light’ and ‘green light’ commands. When the leader, who is standing at least 15 feet in front of the players, gives the ‘green light’ command everyone must rapidly move towards them. But when the ‘red light’ command is given everyone must stop immediately, assess where they are, then wait until the leader gives the green light command again. The player who reaches the leader first wins the game.
As Christians we often find ourselves in a real-life Red Light – Green Light scenario. Standing side-by-side with people who we perceive to be in competition with us and vigorously working to reach what we assume to be the higher echelon of life. The journey to reach our goal is filled with stop and go commands given by God that we cannot control or change. And the wait, as frustrating as it can be, is often a period of retrospect that allows us to assess where we are, re-think our strategies for reaching the goal-line and decide whether the journey is worth the wait.
When the green light is given, we are encouraged to run our fastest in order to leave our competition behind. Society teaches us that being first is a noble quest, even if it requires pushing and shoving to get ahead of others. But in Matthew 19:30, the Bible states, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Earthly rank does not translate into heavenly rank. And although I believe that being first is not a sin, our focus must remain on God and His destiny for our life.
The most difficult times are the red light, or waiting, periods of life. Throughout the Bible we are taught that patience is a virtuous attribute and the power to wait on God is rewarded in the end. But the fear of never achieving our goals coupled with faulty thinking that God is not with us during our waiting period creates anxiety and uncertainty along the way. Whether we are waiting on an improved health report from the doctor, the healing of a drug addicted child or help with a struggling marriage, the red light periods of life are our most difficult.
In my darkest hours during my waiting periods, I often reflect on Psalm 30: 5: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. God often uses the transitioning from night to day as an example of how hard times will evolve from darkness to light.
God blesses the waiting period. He stands in the mist of the awkward silence that threatens to make us believe that He isn’t there, and He whispers hope into our ear. Often, we cannot hear Him because of our fears, but God is always in control. He doesn’t leave us in the coldest moments nor does He blow away in the highest winds. He is our rock and our fortress.
The waiting period is a time of triumph. It is during this period that we do our bravest work. We learn to stand still and to believe that daylight is just over the horizon and darkness is not eternal. When we wait – patiently – we learn how to run our fastest without trampling others and to appreciate the journey.
Gods timing is not our timing and His priorities are not our priorities. Therefore, when the green light is on, we must take what we learned during the red light periods and approach our journey with consideration and love if we are to reach the pinnacle of God’s expectation for our lives.
Psalms 27:13-14 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
Micah 7:7 But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
This original article was published in the July 2016 issue of The Mount Christian Magazine.
Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel.