In what seems like a former life, I was in the marching band during my high school years. Our band director was a Navy veteran and a stickler for marching with precision. We drilled for hours on end to perfect our stride and formations. Performing in halftime shows was fun and marching in parades was enjoyable, though exhausting. But what I enjoyed the least was marking time, simply marching in place while waiting for the signal to go forward.
To my chagrin, I hate to admit that not much has changed. Though far removed from my high school years, I still don’t like to mark time. I don’t like standing still. Waiting is one of my least favorite things to do. I want to move forward and accomplish something. Rather than mark time, I want to make progress. I want to be productive.
Perhaps this is why I identify with the story of Moses. I can put myself in his sandals as he waited forty years as a shepherd in Midian before God appeared to him in the burning bush. I can guess how he felt while Israel took one more lap around Mt. Sinai and wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Moses spent the bulk of his life marking time.
And yet, Moses developed a unique relationship with God during those years of waiting. He was known as the one who spoke with God face to face. He begged God for his presence and caught a brief glimpse of his glory. Though he did not travel far geographically, he traveled deeper into the heart of God than many others have done.
Rather than chafing when God sends me into the wilderness, I need to use the time to get to know him better. Rather than feeling frustrated when I find myself marking time, I need to seek God’s presence. I must learn to wait in a productive manner.