Waiting and looking, not knowing what to expect, yet expecting what we do not know. Questions swirl, realty crashes with dreams, it’s all so uncertain; the next step has yet to be revealed. In the darkness of uncertainty, questioning whether he heard the Lord correctly, or even if the Lord has heard him, Habakkuk is waiting; waiting on a response from the Lord. His questions of confusion swirl through the heavenlies like a whirlwind, landing on the ears of the Almighty. Questions born out of confusion are not necessarily harbored in the darkness of doubt. It is always best to send questions of God back to God. Questions do not always flow from the pride of doubt but some from the humility of a true heart, seeking out the will of God. All Habakkuk wanted was to know his God, to understand His ways. He questioned what God was doing, was the plan He sat in motion actually coming about? What does one do when the will of God, the plan that was laid out, seems to be dissolved? When things have seemingly derailed off course? When things seem to be in reverse, losing ground instead of gaining it?
“I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me…” Habakkuk 2:1
Habakkuk was stationed for revelation. He didn’t run, he waited. He positioned himself to hear the word from the Lord. How many of us ask questions but then run ahead to find the answer? After all, waiting is hard. Especially when the answer lies beyond the horizon. We do not like sitting still, we feel like nothing is happening. When the Lord answered Habakkuk He said “For still the vision awaits the appointed time, it hastens to the end-it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not delay.” In wisdom the Lord proved that He is not indebted to the calendar of man. He is not one to be rushed or pushed into untimely events; His answer–wait for it.
Waiting confuses us. In a world of instant gratification, we grow antsy and impatient, the fear of miscalculation and misguidance starts rumbling through our souls, shaking us to our core. The answer from on high deals both with the frustration of waiting and the fears….” it hastens to the end—it will not lie.If it seems slow, wait for it, it will surely come; it will not delay.”
The word hasten in this verse actually means “to pant”. The image is engraved here of a runner striving to reach the finish line. The word of the Lord will prove true, even though things seem still, its working to cross over to its destination. Isaiah says “ 10As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” The word of the Lord is accomplishing, if it seems as if it has no effect, it is not that it has halted but we have just yet to see the harvest. It’s growing, reaching for maturation. The end result is all we see, we miss the process of providence. The underground work, that takes place out of the range of our peripheral sight. We are in the margin, between the times, where things remain the same, where the anchor of hope is lodged in the sand of time. And that anchor is slowly losing its grip. With each passing moment, time seeks to dissolve hope. That is why we must crawl above the sand dunes, to the watch tower, where clear perspective is gathered. If hope is lodged in the fallibility of our own calendar then it will sink in the uncertainty of time. But if it stands upon higher ground the sinking sand of time will not be able to take it down.
We like Habakkuk, often find ourselves living between the times; Sandwiched between prophecy and fulfillment. That can be a heavy place; caught between the future and the present. How do you live in between the times, when purpose is lodged in a promise and the promise lodged in providence?
Watch and wait. While waiting often confuses us, faith unties the knots that complicate the process.
“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by faith.” Habakkuk 2:4
Faith is the paradigm of promise, based on grace, faith prepares us for providence. Faith doesn’t require God to work on our schedule. It rests in the “appointed time”. It stands watching at the finish line as the promise crosses over. It understands that we have no right to hold God prisoner to our time table. Faith unlocks us from the prison of time, where expectations are based on the tick of the clock. It “provides a solution to the doubt we sometimes feel in His all wise providence.”. Doubters, not questioners, are often puffed up with pride. The idea of control and desire for it, injects its toxic venom into our belief system. In all our plotting and calculating we bloat with pride, choosing our ways over His, assuming we know better than the Almighty. On the other hand Faith deflates; as we surrender our calender to Eternal One, the pressure is released.
When we are stuck in the middle, between already and not yet, faith is the watch tower. Where we watch, not the things that are seen but that which is unseen. Where we wait not on our plans to unfold, but for the appointed time-even if it tarries. It’s a place of elevated perspective.
If you are stuck between the times, don’t lose heart, the promise of the Lord will not be stopped, it speeds ahead—look for it, expect it—watch and wait for it. For nothing has the power to alter its course or derail it from its mission. The word will come without delay you need only to watch in faithfulness.
I’ll leave you with the encouraging words of Barker and Bailey “Habakkuk’s Revelation emphasized the life-giving nature of God. He cares for His people even when He seems distant and uninvolved. Though the revelation may take what appears to be an agonizingly long time to appear, wait for it. God knows and cares for His people.”