Wait Training

by Jeff Pohlman

© 18 November, 2005


Isaiah 40 : 31  Those who wait upon God get fresh strength.  They spread their wings and soar like eagles.  They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind.

(The MESSAGE [The Bible in Contemporary Language]- NavPress - Eugene H. Peterson)

Now here's a subject that isn't dear to very many people.  My wife and I grew up in the shadows of New York City so to speak, out on Long Island.  We have lived way out in the middle of somewhere (Vernon Center, Minnesota, population 300 ±, about 30 miles south of Mankato, population 55,000 ±, which is about an 1½ hours south of Minneapolis/ Saint Paul).  Besides NYC, we have lived in and around some big cities, like Boston, and Houston (fourth largest in the US), and now Dallas/ Fort Worth.  And, we have lived in some medium-sized cities like Wichita Falls, Baltimore and Virginia Beach.  A few more are sprinkled in there just for fun.

Of all of the places we have lived in, big and small, we have NEVER heard of one person who wakes up in the morning and shouts with glee, "I can't wait to get out there and engage in rush hour traffic!!!"  No one eats their breakfast with haste, trying to get into that favorite vehicle and maneuver as fast as possible to get into that thicket of commuter cars, along with the other HAPPY commuters.

That's just one of many sorts of experiences we go through, regarding wait training.  My Dad told me, as he patted me on the back, me boarding the airplane for San Antonio, Texas, for military basic training during Viet Nam, "You'd better be patient son, because they are going to teach you the meaning of 'Hurry Up 'n Wait.'"  Well he knew, since he'd gone through it quite a few years earlier, and he was right.  It always perplexed me why they took so long, when you could see the tasks sitting right there in front of them-you-and-God, but the excruciating slowness seemed to become slower if you pushed harder, even the teeniest bit.  So, somehow, you learned patience, or you met with ulcers or some idiotic punishment from a drill sergeant.

That experience has transposed over to long waiting lines in college, graduate school, job banks/ fairs/ applications, hospitals (birthing babies and too many broken bones), banks in general, veteran's affairs offices, (un)employment offices, and even fast food restaurants of all things.  Don't you just love it at places like airport terminals, where they have those ropes-and-stanchions cordoning off aisles that weave back and forth upon themselves like a serpent, you've waited with about a hundred other folks in the lapping back and forth, and then someone waltzes up to the counter, jumping the entire queue, to ask the attendant, "Where is the beginning of the line?"

This waiting behavior was accented recently as we waited for friends who were trying to escape the hurricane season of 2005, who were leaving Houston for our house in Dallas.  Yes we were astonished to know they left around 10:00 one morning, and when we caught up with them by phone at 5 o'clock THE NEXT DAY, they had barely moved 30 miles, many folks had run out of gas as they sat still, with several millions of other people also trying to escape, and unfortunately it was somewhat hot outside, so there were several deaths due to dehydration of the waiting passengers.

Get it?

Wait training is NOT something that anyone I know of runs up and embraces with the wildest hugs and kisses.  Oh, I'm glad you're back, thank you for being in my life.  Oh please, please-please, can we have another round of waiting, I'm ready, I'm totally devoid of ANY reading material, radios, TVs, nice scenery, or friends, so I'll be good and bored this time?  Can we, can we?  Hurry up, I wanna wait!!!

I sit here writing today because I/ we have just consummated 1½ years of waiting upon the Lord for a situation to unfold.  I had ordered the materials to purchase a The UPS Store® franchise back in May of 2004, it had arrived, and I perused it while we took a very quick trip to tidy up some family business on the east coast.  Upon our return the first week of July 2004, I began the application process and what is referred to as "due diligence" in business circles.  Here it is mid-November 2005, and I finally was able to deliver an earnest money deposit to buy the store.

Think for a moment.  Can you imagine how many people have been involved in this with me (oh - and mentally involved counts as an involvement)?  It has been exasperating, exhausting, and as of today - rewarding.  This is the stuff that faith is made for (the assurance of things hoped for, the belief that things-not-seen will come to fruition).  Faith-building is the reason why the Lord stirs wait training into our lives, despite our child-like heel-kicking reluctance.


Romans 8 : 25-  ... If we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

(New American Standard Version [NASV]- AMG Publishers - Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. Greek Study Bible)


My reflections on the specific task of trying to purchase this store,

and the overlaying spiritual significances...

Because of the wait, like all wait training, it has brought out the best and worst of my personality traits.  It HAS been the Lord's proverbial pressure cooker.  My wife and I have seen many a married couple split permanently in divorce, after just a few months of what we've been through over this last test (which has actually been a six-year test for us personally).  And yet, He is stronger all the more, in us and through us as us.  I'm not proud of the stupidity He has uncovered in my life.  I don't think I'm a very good listener, and He certainly has knocked my arrogance down several notches, causing me to exercise grace, which I have never known, to come from such depths of my personality that I didn't know existed.  I am so thankful for the right wife He has chosen for me, and the chance to share these experiences together.

Because of the wait, like all wait training, there has been reward almost immeasurable.  Tendency is to think that all opportunity that is right in front of our faces will disappear too quickly, so we'd better take advantage of it, before it slips away forever.  That is the seed to impulse buying, and certain disaster in many circumstances.  Truth is, if the opportunity is here today, there's also a good chance it will still be waiting for your decision tomorrow.  And, if it disappears, then good, it wasn't meant for you to partake in.  That's very easy to say or write.  To believe it and act that way in the heat of battle is another thing.  To exhibit the patience necessary to move methodically and even slowly is not an easy thing to do.  After all, I grew up in the hurry-capitol of the world, we live in an instant-society.  NO ONE goes to eat at a Slow-Food-Restaurant on purpose.  We want the merchandise waiting for us instantly as we walk into our favorite retailers.  We want faster cars - and get outta my way!!!  People will never stop popping into your life with savory offers like, "This is too good to pass up, and it won't last long, so you must make a decision to buy - right now."  However, His designs are to reward those who are methodically patient in Him.  You don't think He's patient?    J

Because of the wait, to be realistic in nuts & bolts terminology, the Lord exacted a change in the price and the terms for me.  I had originally tried to apply for the business-type loan through Small Business Administration channels.  Three larger national banks later, and after a lot of time, I melded into looking for a loan in partnership with a beloved brother in the Lord, at yet-another local bank.  More applications, more negotiations, more time, more analysis (did I mention more time?), and it slowly slithered to a stop.  I had called off the financial hound dogs by mid-September this year, exhausted from the hunt.  It was revived by sympathetic well-wishers.  Now here we sit, at the step where the real deal is finally agreed upon by the seller and myself, offer-money is set into his hand, sealing the deal.  Then after the deal is done, in the quietness of the after-moment, Father directs us to look at the final price from His perspective and we discover that the Lord has actually saved us from paying thirty-percent of the original selling price (which was absolutely-firm at the beginning of this venture).  That's multiples of tens of thousands of dollars He's saved us, which would have been extrapolated out over a ten year mortgage.  Now He has exacted a three year mortgage for us, with a much lower pricing structure.  That means we'll really be the owners (as opposed to a bank) in a far shorter period of time, and we'll own it for far less invested - all the while it HAS been appraised at more than the original high asking price.  I did not execute some sort of negotiating winder.  He did it.  He gets the glory all around.  Thank you Lord!!!

Because of the wait, I have studied this thing up one side and down the other three sides, as well as the roof and the basement.  I have spread sheets that could sink three banking ships, and I now have a year's worth of reality to measure against the projections I made a year ago (my analysis has proven out to be the best-of-conservative - where He made it possible for me to do the analysis that way in the first place).

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Leap of faith?"  Have you ever heard someone talk about the "Crawl of faith?"  If you had told me on June fifteenth, two-thousand-four, that I was going to embark on a one-and-a-half year wait in order to purchase this business, I would have said you're nuts.  However, at this juncture, I see what He has been up to all that time.  No, it has not been fun all of the time.  He HAS been teaching all along the way.  It IS possible that He could have allowed the whole deal to go away also.  I had to allow for that.  I had to give it over into His hands and allow Him to put the pieces together or take it away, whatever His will was, I would get in line with it.  Everyone around me knows that I was fully prepared for both outcomes, with all reality.  I had to constantly affirm that the situation is in His hands.  That can't stop.  Somehow, He has me in this crucible, not only for me to learn, but for others also.  Interestingly, my wife and I were at an ekklesia meeting a few weeks ago where a fellow prophetically said just that.  That the things we have been learning are not just for ourselves but for others, even well into the future.  That's the blessing of being set into His measure of mentoring, doing the work He has called us to do, because His purposes get fulfilled in manifold ways.

One thing we must always be careful of is to not be superstitious (that will get you in much trouble - like betting huge on lottery tickets based upon the numbers from your Chinese fortune cookie at lunch time, or following astrological signs of zoroasterism).  Sometimes it is amusing to see slight circumstances come into orbit in your life, but it is unwise to try and look ahead, like a mystic or fortune teller, and to bet on an outcome, because it will surely meet with sudden disaster and ruin.  Here's an example.

What I See On My Desk Now - Dale Jarrett's #88 & Today's Calendar in Background

Absolutely ironically, as I sit here at my computer, looking at my twin monitors, you see above what I am looking at while I write.  I notice that the calendar (a NASCAR calendar of course) for this weekend has the #88 of Dale Jarrett featured.  That might mean nothing to you, but as you can see, I also had a model of Dale's car (which carried The UPS Store® livery) on my desk for some time.  How prodigious.  He normally races with UPS sponsorship, but he had the car specially painted for that one race, to promote The UPS Store® as a brand franchise.  Again, not being superstitious, we have to be very careful to NOT go around looking for these sorts of fleshly earthly signs as confirmations.  Otherwise we'll be running from one sign post to the next and we'll loose sight of being responsible to hear His still small voice of His Holy Spirit - yes spirit, not flesh.  So to me, it's just funny to see these two items come into the same orbit as I am consummating this deal to buy my own store.

By the way, in case you're wondering, the model to the left is of the old Polo Grounds in NYC, and the picture behind it is one which I took there in 1963, when I was ten years old, when the New York Mets were playing the Chicago Cubs.  The view in the pic is the same angle that you are looking at the stadium from.  In 1964 the Mets started playing across town at Shea Stadium and the Polo Grounds was torn down.

Also, I happen to love owls, and I am very cognizant of the birds which surround our house.  My mom is a bird watcher, and some of that rubbed off on me.  You'll find the occult people place spiritual significance in different animals like owls, goats, etc., but I possess no such mystical superstitions, nor am I an adherent to such heresy as Harry Potter and other wiccan/ pagan beliefs in animal figures.  I happen to appreciate all of HIS creation, and owls are right there with rabbits and dogs for me.  Hence, you see a cute little owl model that was a gift to me, sitting there next to Dale's car.  No superstitious meaning to any of it.


Our two girls, my wife and I have been through extraordinary amounts of wait training.  I can't say that I am rushing up and embracing it, even yet.  All I can say is that the Lord is gracious and merciful as He takes us through each of these customized trials, which He also gives us peculiar grace to endure - my trials aren't made for you and yours aren't made for me.  I sat right next to Joni Eareckson (before she married Mr. Tada) as she delivered that very message one day where I was working, and it certainly brought me to tears as she delivered it with joyful laughter.  What a revelation.  Our trials ARE custom made by Him, and we're not expected to try and live out someone else's trials; just our own.  The most definite expression I can give you is that there is no other way He could have taught me these things, except by His custom-made tests and trials, and He has most definitely taught during these experiences of the last year and a half of trying to buy this store (and six years in general).

Like Jacob wrestling at Peniel (Genesis 32:22-30), I have been determined to come away with the touch of His desire for me in the situation.  Thankfully, my hip is not out of joint permanently (like Jacob's was as a result of his wrestling).  I don't want to have to revisit the lesson again because I was too stubborn to learn the first or last time He took me through it.  We had a pastor once who was a marvelous living example in front of the flock assigned to him - and he used to say, "There is no failing of a class with the Lord, you just get to take it over and over and over and over, until you get it right, according to the Lord's measure of rightness."  That can be a scary thought for those of us who have the same spirit-heart tendencies that Israel exhibited all through the Bible - that of stubborn hard heartedness.  It is a harrowing thought to consider, and one which should cause one to ponder softening one's position and attitude, on learning what He is trying to teach.

So what is the awarded crown that comes with wait training?

James 1 : 2-  Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  3-  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  4-  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  12-  Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord had promised to those who love Him.

(New American Standard Version [NASV]- AMG Publishers - Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. Greek Study Bible [emphasis mine])


© 2005  Permission to copy or reprint granted only if full version is quoted and proper notation of authorship recognition is given.




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