This blog is* titled “Worship in Waiting,” so I feel obligated to shed some light on the meaning of this singsong alliteration. It comes from a place of vulnerability. Truth be told, I have a hard time waiting. If something is going to happen, I want it to be now. If something needs to be solved, now is always better than later. Any sort of uncertainty, ambiguity, or “I don’t know” doesn’t sit well with me. I’m sure you are familiar with some of these common waiting games: hearing results from the doctor, counting down the days until a baby is born, anticipating a vacation (or let’s be honest, the weekend), growing your hair out, losing the weight, reconciling conflict with a friend or coworker, waiting in LINE (there have gotta be ways around that one). Let’s just get there already. The in-between time eats me up. I find myself in a stuck place – running in circles, spinning my wheels, packing and unpacking, jumping to conclusions, or just becoming a real nasty person to be around because my mind doesn’t have a chill setting. There are some waits that I can handle. I call these the “relieving waits.” The kind where you throw your hands up in praise because if that was due tomorrow, you’re as good as dead. These waits are inherently appreciated, because preparation. Example A: running a marathon. They open registration for marathons months in advance, because you have to TRAIN. You have to build up for the big event. I’m not going to complain about those couple months of waiting, because signing up for a marathon the day before it happens would be a whole lot of nope. But even in these moments where waiting is a huge relief, there still exists a period of time before the end goal – be it a marathon, a surgery, or a certification exam. And it is in this stretch of waiting, regardless of whether we find the time unbearably long or not long enough, that our minds can become consumed with the ending. We aren’t just waiting for waiting’s sake; we are waiting FOR something. And what happens when we reach that answer, event, or long-awaited nap? We hit the refresh button and wake up to a new thing on our plate that comes with its very own stretch of waiting. YAY.
If it seems we spend more time waiting for the thing than enjoying (or enduring) the thing itself, there must be something significant to be found in the stuck places. And considering how much of our lives we spend waiting for this, that, and the next thing, I’d like to think there’s even something good hiding there. I’m still learning how to tolerate waiting, let alone enjoy it, but I am beginning to walk in the knowledge that waiting time is not wasted time. There is purpose in every stuck place I walk into, and my exasperation with the waiting process is a small price to pay for the beauty that comes from a little (or a lot of) wait time.
- Waiting begets hope. Romans 5:3-6 says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The practice of waiting is one that produces patience. With the virtue of patience, we grow in character. And with strong character, we find hope. And as the other good book states, “Rebellions are built on hope.” Star Wars, anyone? With hope, we need for little else. Hope is the fuel that keeps us moving forward, looking ahead, and trying, even when the evidence makes us believe we can’t go on. The suffering we endure in waiting is forming us to be stronger and better both now and next go ’round.
- Waiting polishes, prepares, and perfects. We need time. Our brains and bodies were not made to provide the perfect answer or performance right away. Waiting allows us the freedom to ripen. Yes, just like fruit. If you try to eat a banana before it’s ripe, yuck. It’s hard, it tastes like a leaf, and its peel sticks to the edible part making it frustrating to dissect. As much as that banana sounds delicious (which is never; bananas are never delicious), it will not be at all satisfying if you eat it before it’s ready. Waiting gives us an opportunity to think, to practice, and to develop what we need to be most fruitful. I’m growing a baby right now (woah), and as much as I wish he were here right now, that would not be what’s best. He is cooking, developing, growing healthy and strong. He’ll come out when it’s time – when my body and his have used this time of waiting to perfect all that needs to be. Not to mention, if he came now, he’d have no car seat or diapers. Waiting is hard, but waiting is important. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that there is a time and a season for everything, and in verses 9-11 it says, “What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” God has designed for waiting. There is time to be involved in the beautifying and perfecting of His creation, and so, there must be time involved in the process of our own.
- Waiting time is time. Actual minutes on the clock. I so often choose to make this time more annoying than it ought to be, because I want OUT. So I dig my heels in and find myself in a stuck place – unable, or perhaps, unwilling to do anything productive until the wait is up and my resolution has come. Unfortunately, waiting doesn’t pause the clock. It’s not a time out from everyday life. Life is going to happen regardless, and like I said before, waiting time is not wasted time. But it can be. That choice is up to me and up to you. If we use the extra time waiting allows us, we can do so much to prepare for the awaited moment or to go a completely opposite direction, OR even more simply, to REST. What do people always wish they had more of? TIME. Well friends…
If we wait on God, and dare I say anything*, we will not be disappointed. To illustrate my point, here’s one more well-loved Bible verse for good measure: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” -Isaiah 40:31
When we view waiting through the lens of what it gives us, rather than it what it takes away, perhaps we will live in a place of worship and thankfulness – satisfied to wait because we trust that it is not the time. Oh, but when it is, we will be ready.
Give this song a listen. It’s been speaking volumes in my life lately, and conveniently for you, addresses this very topic of waiting: Take Courage
*Used to be titled
*Not exactly anything. None of this goodness applies to waiting in lines of any kind. That kind of waiting is in a league all its own. Maybe lines give you the chance to slow down a little, eavesdrop on others’ conversations, silently judge the shopping choices in surrounding carts, and grow incredibly perturbed by the smells and sounds around you, but really, there is no hope in that kind of waiting. It is almost always wasted time, unless some unlikely kindness comes along and bags your groceries. Sorry.