Waiting for something, when it’s taking much longer than we anticipated, is often the very thing that reveals to us what is truly in our hearts. This can be the waiting for God to do something, what to understand something, the waiting for direction, the waiting for … anything.
We typically have a time frame where we have our own ability to wait for something. Culturally it’s different for each person. But when that window goes way beyond our expectations, then what’s in our hearts comes out.
For the Israelites perhaps they only expected Moses to be up on the mountain talking to God for a day or two. Maybe a week. Maximum two weeks. But then a whole month passed. Undoubtedly they were probably wondering whether he lived or died, feeling foolish to wait if he had indeed died. And since they were given prohibitions subject to death if they touched the mountain, they couldn’t exactly go up and check on him. So they waited some more. And still no Moses.
Finally they went to Aaron and asked him to make perhaps a “real” god for them who would go before them. This invisible God was nowhere to be seen. So Aaron did. And the peoples worshipped and danced and celebrated their “god” who supposedly led them out of Egypt. The god they had just made with their hands.
The Lord was furious and sent Moses down to confront the people. Moses had the original Ten Commandments and smashed them against the base of the mountain. He then crushed the golden calf which was presumably gold-plated clay and pulverized it. Then he confronted Aaron because at the end of the day, it was Aaron who had the responsibility:
“Moses saw that the people were out of control, for Aaron had let them get out of control” (v. 25).
God was furious. Moses was furious. And things were bad.
And it all began because the Israelites had an expectation of how long they should wait. And when that timeframe was not just surpassed, but far surpassed, what was in the depths of their heart materialized.
And so we wait.
Letting time reveal what’s in our heart so that it may be purified.