Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work.
~ Peter Marshall
Waiting is hard. Waiting for the light to change, the line to move, the game to start, and the phone to charge. I wait for the laundry to finish, the microwave to beep, and the repair person to show up. I wait for my food to come through the magical drive-thru window and for the line to snake through the amusement ride queue. Please stop me if I ever insist on waiting five hours for Disney’s newly open Frozen Ever After ride. A five-minute boat trip through the mythical land of Arendelle is not worth the wait!
Winter-lovers await the first quiet snowflake. Summer-lovers await their first beach day. Moms and dads wait for doctors’ reports while comforting their sick child. Children, women, and men around the globe wait for their freedom from abuse and exploitation. My friend, Tommy, spent 8 days waiting on a boat while fleeing Communism in Vietnam. Some waiting is cruelly defined by life or death.
Waiting isn’t easy; it requires patience and perseverance both qualities I am recently lacking. I am a doer, by God’s design, not a wait-er. I want to go and do, not wait and see. Waiting is starting to freak me out. I am becoming grumpy and fidgety. Let’s get on with it! I don’t own a git ‘er done t-shirt but maybe I should as a visual reminder to God of my inner workings. Nike and me: Just do it!
So here I am, anxiously waiting. I am waiting for an answer, actually 2 answers. One answer from a lady regarding my writing. I am pretty sure what her response will be, but I am waiting to hear it in her own words. I pray she is kind.
The other response? I am waiting on God. I am waiting for Him to tell me my purpose in life. My I-am-turning-55-and-at-a-crossroads purpose in life. You would think I would be willing to be extra patient for such an important answer, but no. I am growing impatient with God. Sadly, my impatience is creeping toward anger. Why doesn’t God answer me? Doesn’t He hear my cries? Doesn’t He care? I am starting to believe I am no longer a blip on God’s radar screen.
Perhaps my impatience is being fueled by a post mid-life crisis. Approaching birthday, getting older, slowing down, stepping away from ministry responsibilities, too much gray hair, too thick at the waist and other areas, too many new aches and pains. All those red flags which scream, Help me find my usefulness, my purpose in this life! Wherever I drive, speed limit signs remind me of my age and my anxiety gauge ticks up a few notches.
I know I have turned the page of a new life chapter, but did God forget to turn the page? Is He a few chapters behind?
I need Him to show me my new path, my new game plan. What does He want me to do? How can I serve Him? I am seeking His direction, which is a good thing. But I so desperately want a map. A nice big, clear map, since my eyesight left a long time ago. I need to know the next play. Football players receive their next play through their helmets. I will strap on a helmet, if need be. I want to get busy for God; my hands aren’t happy idle. As these waiting days flow into each other with no answer, the grayness thickens. The darkness is getting uncomfortably close. How long will I have to wait?
When will God answer me? Not sure. Sarah spent many years in the harsh grip of childlessness while waiting on God. God’s people waited in Egypt for 400 years before hearing His response to their cries. How long did Simeon wait to see the child Jesus in the Temple? Paul waited in jail for two years before arriving in Rome.
Two requests before God and silence. The deafening kind of silence. I want answers, yesterday. I recognize my time-table is so nearsighted, so finite. God’s time-table is beyond comprehension, certainly beyond my limited vision.
David reminds me over and over again in Psalms to wait and do so patiently. Psalm 27:14, Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 37: 7a, Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.
As I learn to wait, perhaps I will find God is patiently waiting for me. Is He waiting for me to become still? Is He waiting for me to start trusting Him again? Is He blessing me with time to be quiet but I am narrow-mindedly discarding it as wasted time? Is this waiting time a precious gift from my good, good Father? Time to rest and refresh, not whine and complain. During this waiting period, I need to accept the open invitation to climb onto His lap and be close to my Heavenly Daddy. A gift of time to rest in His embrace.
Time to pull up a chair, grab a soda, and lots of chocolate. Time to wait but also time to read, pray, be still, and just enjoy Him. Maybe being in God’s waiting room isn’t so bad after all. Maybe I can learn to embrace this time and utter thank you, instead of hurry up.
As I look around, I see I am in very good company. So many pictures of those who have passed through this same waiting room. Some waited longer than others, but all have waited. Joseph waited in a pit and prison. Job waited. Hannah waited. Father of the prodigal son waited. So many have waited and so many are still waiting. I am not alone here.
I will wait expectantly of what God will do. I will wait as He authors the next chapter in my life.
I will wait; for I know He is working.
Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. ~ John Ortberg