My two boys and I flew home last night from a family trip. I like flying later in the day, but you always run an increased risk of the flight getting delayed. Sure enough, our flight was delayed an hour, then half an hour more. As my boys and I sat waiting at the gate, and I worried about whether or not we would make our connection or have to spend the night in an airport somewhere, I looked around at all the other stressed and worried people around me.
We were just waiting…and I don’t think any of us were happy about it. Waiting is hard. It feels like wasted time, an unforgivable sin in today’s world. I believe we also struggle with waiting because it makes us feel like we’re out of control. Or at least that our illusion of control is broken.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons in my life from waiting, and learning that I’m not in control comes foremost.
When we ask God for something, we are almost always set upon a path of waiting. The most fervent prayer I’ve ever asked in my life was answered so slowly that it took me a while to realize it had been answered at all.
That wasn’t the way I would have chosen it. I wanted an immediate positive response, but when we ask God for something, we have to recognize that answers come, if they come, on God’s time. In the meanwhile, we wait.
The Bible is filled with examples of waiting, examples big and small—women waiting to bear children, Israel waiting to be delivered from exile, God’s people waiting for their Savior.
I will wait upon The Lord. It is a theme that is repeated many times in the Bible.
Right now our family is going through another kind of waiting: waiting for our third child to be born. Waiting for a baby is certainly preferable to airport waiting. It’s filled with anticipation rather than annoyance. Still, there is a part of me that wants to rush through and just have it all done already so we can meet this baby girl.
So pregnancy for me has provided an opportunity to reflect on the many verses in the Psalms and Isaiah and other books that advise us to wait upon the Lord. I particularly like Psalm 37:7, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Waiting for a baby has been a good way to try to live this verse. For once I have been mostly content to wait patiently for God. This baby will likely be our last one, and so I’ve been trying my best to fight my natural instinct to want to rush forward.
It has helped me to remember that waiting is not at all wasted time, that spiritual progress (at least in my experience) happens slowly and in fits and starts, sometimes, as in my answered prayer, so slowly that it’s hard to even notice.
In Sue Monk Kidd’s book When the Heart Waits, she tells a story of a retreat she attended at a monastery. She had trouble sitting and doing nothing for even a short time (sound familiar?). In contrast, she observed a monk sitting perfectly still and later asked him how he was able to wait, to do nothing, so well. He told her, “When you’re waiting, you’re not doing nothing. You’re doing the most important something there is. You’re allowing your soul to grow up. If you can’t be still and wait, you can’t become what God created you to be.”
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Psalm 37:9 (NKJV)
What lessons have you learned from waiting?