One Confused Airplane
A great aeronautical genius invested millions of dollars to build a grand airplane. But this was no common airplane. This was a supersonic jet designed to fly higher and faster than any other plane. He even made it invisible to the enemy. The builder planned to use the airplane to rescue prisoners of war from behind enemy lines. So he put inside it an engine so powerful it could land straight down like a helicopter, collect its precious cargo then blast straight up to safety miles above the earth. He gave it long, tapered wings so it could outmaneuver a whole fleet of other fighter planes.
Most unique of all, the builder gave the plane a free will. It could choose whether to fulfill its intended purpose or not.
Finally the great day came when the plane’s builder with great fanfare took his place in the cockpit and turned the key to ignite the powerful engine. But to his dismay, the engine didn’t start. Instead, the airplane spoke to him. “Mighty builder, greatest of all engineers, all wise and all-knowing one, I worship you and adore you with all my heart,” said the plane. “Now for the rest of my life I will not trust in my own ability, nor will I be proud of this powerful engine. I will not strive or struggle to accomplish things in my own strength. In honor of you, I will stand here on this runway and wait on you, to see your mighty works and the wonders your hand will perform. I am nothing, I am weak and powerless, but you are all-in-all. So I will wait for you and depend entirely upon you to save the captives out there suffering in those prison camps.”
“I appreciate your accolades,” said the builder, “But please understand; I built you for a purpose. It is through you that I will save the captives. I put a powerful engine in you so that under my guidance, together we will do mighty works.”
“But,” said the plane. “You yourself said, ‘…The builder is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ (Lam. 3:24) and “You are the builder of my salvation; for you I wait all the day” (Ps. 25:5). So I’m waiting patiently to see how you will rescue the captives. I’m really excited to see how you do it! You’re so awesome and powerful and…”
“The powerful engine I put inside you is in fact my spirit,” interjected the builder. “And the very reason I put it inside you is so that you and I together could rescue the captives.”
The plane replied, “You also said ‘Be still, and know that I am the builder’ (Ps. 46:10) and ‘In returning and rest you will be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength’ (Isaiah 30:15). So you see, if the powerful engine that you put in me starts up, I won’t be still or quiet anymore and then maybe I will become prideful or maybe I will fall into sin.”
Try as he might, the builder could not convince the plane that it was in fact his intended means of saving the captives. So for many years the plane stood there on the runway singing the praises of its builder. Meanwhile the builder waited, disappointed but patient, because he had given the plane its free will.
Finally one day the builder had an idea. He went out on the runway and asked the plane, “How’s It going? Are you happy?”
“I suppose,” said the plane. “It’s a pretty easy life just standing here praising you. But I think my rivets are rusting and a mouse has built its nest in my ailerons and that makes me feel itchy. And those darn birds keep sitting on my cockpit crapping all over my windshield. To be honest, I’m not very happy. Worst of all, even though I keep on praising you, I haven’t seen you do many wondrous works or release many captives. So I’m a little bit tired and frustrated with all this waiting.”
The Real Meaning of “Wait on the Lord”
The builder smiled. “You’re bored and rusty and frustrated because you’re not “about my business.’ I made you so that through you I could do great deeds. The captives are to be rescued by us working together. You quoted so many passages from my book but you got them wrong. Now let me read you something else I said.” Holding his big book up in front of the airplane the builder read, “Those who wait for the builder will gain new strength…” The builder lowered the book and looked the airplane straight in the propeller. “If you were really waiting the way you should be, then you would need new strength. That does not mean strength to endure itchy mouse nests or drippy bird poop while you sit there and do nothing. That means strength to go on a mission to rescue prisoners. That means strength to fly straight up and swerve around to avoid enemy planes and then deliver the captives safely home. Do you need any strength sitting here on the tarmac?”
“No,” muttered the plane.
“The reason you aren’t in need of new strength is you aren’t using the strength I already gave you. And that’s why you’re bored and that’s why not many mighty works are happening. You see, when you wait on me correctly then you will need me to give you new strength because you’re using every ounce of what I gave you. That means using that powerful engine I put inside you!
“But if I use the engine then I’d have to get very noisy. And if I was flying fast through the air and using all my strength and exerting all my effort, I wouldn’t be waiting on you, would I?”
“You’ve got the wrong idea of what ‘waiting on the builder’ is all about,” counseled the builder. “The word that is translated ‘wait’ actually means ‘hope, expect or eagerly look for.’ It is not intended to suggest physical inactivity but rather an attitude of the heart which anticipates and looks forward to the mighty works of the builder. It means allowing the builder to use you to accomplish the mighty works! It does not mean ceasing from activity and just waiting for the builder to right the world’s wrongs. It means allowing the builder to pilot you. Together we promote righteousness and bring salvation to a hurting world.
“Really?” The plane’s reply sounded almost like the engine turning over. The ailerons flexed up and down and the mouse nest fell out and little gray bodies scampered away in all directions. A jet of water squirted onto the plane’s windshield and its wipers turned on. Soon all the bird crap was washed away.
The builder was getting excited. Life was coming into his grand creation – real life, the life of vision and purpose beyond itself. “That’s not all!” He held up the book again and the plane gave him all its attention. “I also wrote, ‘Those who wait for the builder… will mount up with wings like eagles.’ Do you know what that means? It means those who wait for the builder will take off, leaving the tarmac far behind. They will fly with speed and urgency, with power and strength like an eagle. Now, see those big wings?” The builder walked over and slapped the leading edge of one wing. “What do you think those are for?”
The plane’s engine turned over again.
“Now if you were really waiting for me the way you should be, then you would be ready and waiting to fulfill my desires. My desire is that you hurtle through the air on mission to rescue captives. If you were truly waiting on me, then I could climb into your cockpit and we’d be up there in the sky flying like an eagle. We’d be on our way to the purpose for which I built you, which was to rescue captives.”
With that the plane bellowed “Let’s go!” as its engine roared to life. Thrilled to at last have a useful vessel, the builder climbed into the cockpit and away they went.
Let’s be reminded that “waiting for the Lord” is not about physical inactivity but an attitude of the heart. It’s about placing our hope and trust in him. It’s about living in the expectation that He will do great wonders. But He will do those wonders THROUGH US, as we take action, going forth declaring His goodness and setting captives free.