Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, he instructed his disciples, “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus’ message was clear: “Wait on the Spirit!”
Most of us need a lot of work when it comes to the discipline of waiting. The more we rush to accomplish things for God in our flesh, the more his power drains out of us. This happened in the Old Testament over and over again. Israel was always moving ahead of God, frustrating his plans for them and robbing him of the glory he deserved as their faithful deliverer. We have the same tendency today. Our flesh is simply inclined to move ahead of the Lord.
Elijah knew what it meant to wait on the Lord. “The word of the Lord came to [Elijah], saying, ‘Hide yourself’” (1 Kings 17:2-3). These are some of the hardest words any follower of Jesus can hear. It’s the equivalent of Jesus telling his disciples, “Wait.” For the disciples, waiting was a matter of weeks (see Luke 24:49). But for Elijah, it was three years. That was the remaining length of the famine Israel endured after God spoke to him.
Imagine how hard that period was for Elijah. He had a word from God burning in his heart, but he was commanded to stay silent for three long years. Once those years passed, however, God told Elijah, “Go, present yourself … and I will send rain upon the earth” (1 Kings 18:1).
Today, some of us “present ourselves” before God’s appointed time. We end up spinning our wheels, tiring ourselves, becoming weary in doing God’s work. But, friend, the only power we will ever have for God’s work will come from time spent in prayer.
Waiting is a painful experience, often filled with boredom and sighing. For the disciples, however, waiting was anything but boring because they had Jesus’ word of promise and it made all the difference! When the moment comes for us to “present ourselves,” God will endue us with his power. What an awesome moment that will be!