I don’t know about you, but I feel like I spend a disproportionate amount of my life waiting.
I wait for the elevator to take me to the garage. I wait at what seems like every red light in town. I sit in a waiting roomto have my name called at the doctor’s office. Then, I sit in a smaller room and wait for the doctor to show up. I wait in the line at the pharmacy to pick up the medication she prescribed for me… and I wait to see if the medication works—which can take anywhere from days to months.
I wait for test results from the lab work they did at the clinic. I wait to hear back from the doctor for an explanation of those results. I wait for an appointment to get something done about the results. I wait, and I wait, and I wait.
Sue Monk Kidd, in her wonderful book When the Heart Waits, says, “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.”
I’ve had to learn that over and over through the years. The idea that waiting equates idleness makes the waiting unbearable, doesn’t it? But if God is working in us while we seemingly sit around doing “nothing,” then it makes it worthwhile.
I just wish I had the same calendar in front of me that God has in front of Him! Wouldn’t that be awesome—to sync-up our schedules with the Almighty Himself and know exactly what day we can count on all the big things to happen? I imagine my conversation with God going something like this:
Me: Okay, Lord, so when should I pencil in that “all things God works for the good of those who love Him” date? (Romans 8:28)
God: You’ll have to wait a long time to see the big picture on that one, Kiddo.
Me: What?! Oh. Well, certainly I can put down when “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” somewhere in this calendar year? (Philippians 4:13)
God: Hmm… it’s kind of an on-going thing; not really a one-box-fits-all occasion.
Me: [sigh] Now, Lord, I’ve been praying for patience—you know this—for, like, thirty years. Might it be time to pin that one down?
God: It’s been happening all along.
Me: It has?
Me: Really? [pages through day planner]
God: Every day.
Me: But, Father… isn’t there even one little thing for which You can give me a concrete date? I mean, I spent a pretty penny on this planner, and so far, all I’ve done is fill in the birthdays section…
God: I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:11-12)
Me: So, no, then. Fine.
You get the idea. God’s timing is not our timing. We all know that. But we still want it to be. Many places in Scripture, we see the people of God waiting for what He has promised. They wait with hope. In other words, they wait anticipating an outcome:
- A long-awaited son
- The birth of the Messiah
- Jesus’ return
Sometimes, they got impatient and took matters into their own hands, which never turns out great (see Genesis 16). Other times, they were rewarded and, after a long and fruitful life, got to see exactly what they had been promised (see Luke 2:32-38).
Acts 1:10-11 says, “They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, Who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.’”
We, like the people in the Word of God, have to wait, too. God does not have to answer to our demands; He is not our genie in a bottle. He is not a slave, giving in to our every whim, no matter the consequences.
He has a plan for each of us. He has a reason for everything that happens. He also knows it’s not easy. That’s where grace comes into play. It says in 1 Peter 5:10, “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
So, what do we do with all this time in the waiting room?
David suggests we “wait in silence” (see Psalm 62:5). Without a doubt there is a great deal of worth in silence. But I think that our time can also be spent furthering God’s kingdom. You know, reaching out beyond our front porch where we have our morning devotions and first cup of coffee.
An apt metaphor from Sue Monk Kidd is what takes place in a cocoon. The caterpillar turning into a butterfly is far from idle while in there. Rather, it is actively participating in its growth and metamorphosis. How better to glorify our Lord than to do the same?
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). What if my dialogue with Father God sounded more like this?
Me: Lord, may I schedule in some quiet time with You this week?
God: Absolutely! My calendar is wide open.
Me: Great! And what about a little worship? I dunno, maybe look up some favorite praise tunes on YouTube and have a sing-along?
God: I’m totally down for that—again, whenever you want, I’m available.
Me: I’d also like to block off a chunk of time for reading the Word, so I can share Your message without having to Google it every time I want to say something important.
God: It’s your day planner, Kiddo—you know where to find Me.
I guess it’s not so tricky to schedule God in on the calendar after all.
Kidd, Sue Monk. When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions. HarperCollins, 1990.