Last night we met with some friends, and I posed the (pre-Advent) questions, “What is it that you are waiting on God for?”…“And, how do you wait?”
I find having to wait deeply frustrating. In my brokenness, I would rather be a human doing than a human being. I hate being put on hold on the phone; hate standing in a long queue at the bank or in a shop; hate sitting in a car that isn’t moving, surrounded, for as far as the eye can see, by other cars that are going nowhere, on the motorway…
So my question “How do you wait?” wasn’t a rhetorical one. Here’s some of the collective wisdom that came out of our discussion:
God would appear to value waiting:
(Abraham had to wait for a son; Joseph had to wait in prison, before eventually becoming first minister of Egypt and saving the peoples of that empire from famine; Moses had to wait in the desert before finally leading his people out of captivity from Egypt; then the Israelites had to wait a generation before entering the promised land; David had to wait thirteen years in caves in the wilderness, between being anointed king and being crowned king; his descendents had to wait seventy years in exile in Babylon; everyone had to wait 600 years between Isaiah prophesying concerning the coming of Jesus, and it actually taking place; Jesus had to wait to begin his ministry – “My time has not yet come”…“The time has come!”; Paul had to wait fourteen years in the wilderness before being accepted by the community of Christians; the martyrs beneath God’s throne in heaven wait…Yes; God would appear to value waiting…)
Sometimes we have to wait for as long as it takes for God to work a change in us, before we are ready for the thing we wait for to happen…
(Though sometimes there are also external factors that God is also working on.)
Those of us who tend towards activism (most of the people in the room, as it happens; though one finds the waiting as satisfying as the point where waiting ends) would love to know what that thing in us that needs to change is – so that we can try to do something about it!
…for that very reason, God doesn’t always let us know what it is that needs to change in us – what he is up to ‘behind the scenes’ – until after the event (if at all).
spirituality , waiting