I have several friends who really have a problem with waiting, and yet it seems to me that waiting is an everyday occurrence. We wait for the traffic lights to change, for the check-out girl to be free, for the post to arrive, for the movie to start. We wait for a birthday, Christmas, summer holidays, a visit from an old friend. We wait for the seed to grow, the phone to ring, the doctor to tell us the results. As I sit here I can think of several things I am waiting for right now – my kettle to boil, for my dentist to replace my temporary filling, for the washing machine to finish. So much waiting; actually there is probably never a second in our lives when we are not waiting for something.
Waiting is an integral part of the Christian life. At Advent we prepare and wait for the coming of the Christ child, during Lent we prepare and wait for the glorious resurrection, and ultimately we prepare and wait for Jesus to return, as we find ourselves in the now and not yet of this eschatological mystery which is being revealed daily before our eyes.
What I have come to value is not the waiting itself, but what else I can do in the waiting place. Where is my focus while I am waiting? What is it that draws my attention in that time that can appear so empty, so futile? I have learned over the years that actually the waiting time really is a gift from God, a time to prepare even further for the pending arrival of whatever is coming my way.
Every moment of life is such a precious gift, and in those waiting moments I have learned to stop and look around and take in what is happening in the world. The waiting place becomes a great learning zone. Not long ago I was waiting for a friend outside St Paul’s. As I waited I looked up at the high dome and I became awestruck at the architecture and detail of this amazing London landmark. I remembered my older people from church telling me that at one time you could see St. Paul’s clearly from all over London, whereas now you have to be quite high up to catch a glimpse of the dome over the many towering structures that have been erected in recent years. How much London has changed; and yet this sacred structure still attracts great numbers of visitors from all over the world to wonder it its history and archtecture . When my friend arrived I was lost in my thoughts completely.
Even while waiting in the supermarket there is so much to see and learn, even though it appears I have chosen the slowest line yet again. This is a moment to look around, to people watch, to share a greeting with someone who is waiting too , to smile at a impatient child, to connect with the community with whom I have the privuilege to share life. In moments like these waiting suddenly becomes a gift and each moment is unique and precious.
There are other times when we are forced to wait as a result of the incompetence or indecisiveness of others. At these times waiting can mean powerlessness and frustration. Yet even in these places I ask the question, what is to be learned in this place? When I stop and look around what are the things that this moment can teach me? My experience has showed me that even in those hard places we can encounter God who sits with us in the mess of life and shares his peace. Don’t forget to look for him there.
Thank You Father that today I am waiting, and in this place I can discover again that you are here with me, waiting for me to know your love and to experience things afresh that I may have missed if I had rushed past them.
Jesus – during this Lenten season, remind me again that you are always worth waiting for, and thank you for the times when you have waited for me to remember that!
Lord hear us – Lord graciously hear us!