Waiting is one of my least favourite things in life.
Whether it's in a queue at the supermarket, waiting for results from an important exam or for an answer to prayer, I feel the same old tension build up inside.
These days I can get almost anything I can think of the next day on Amazon Prime, any kind of food I want delivered to my house within the hour, or rent a movie instantly without needing to get up off my sofa. Technology is moving forward at such an astonishing rate that the next faster, more advanced gadget always seems to come out straight after we get the previous one.
It's no wonder we can start to get frustrated when the rest of life doesn't work out that way and we have to wait on something.
But when we think about God's view of time we see some pretty different thinking.
God is outside of time. He isn't constrained by it, and he knows the end from the beginning – nothing comes as a surprise to him. If he knows the end, and I don't, why do I think that my expectations on timing might be better than his?
What does our struggle with waiting say about who we think we are?
So much of our identity is in what we do, the measurable and achievable.
Noise and activity, not silence and waiting.
We often have nothing to show for our waiting, and this is uncomfortable. But waiting gives me a unique opportunity to pause and look inside and see what I really believe about myself. Brennan Manning talks about this in his book Abba's Child:
‘Our longing to know who we really are - which is the source of all our discontent - will never be satisfied until we confront and accept our solitude. There we discover the truth that we are the beloved. We are often so busy trying to prove to ourselves that we are loved that we do not hear God telling us he loves us. Silence is not simply the absence of noise, but rather a process of coming to inner stillness, and this requires waiting.’ (My paraphrase)
So how can we wait well?
These three concepts have challenged and helped me recently in the things I'm waiting for and I hope they can help you too:
- God is always working good things in me even when I’m waiting – I don't need to wait until I've arrived for this. ‘There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.’ Philippians 1:6
- God is never late. And his timing is focused not on the transient results that I look for, but things that matter for eternity. ‘The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people's conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.’ 2 Peter 3:9
- And most importantly, completely aside from whether you're waiting or not, and whatever is or isn't happening in our lives, we can be sure of this one thing: He is with us. ‘I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.’ Matthew 28:20
Sometimes we have to make a choice about how we want to face these seasons of waiting and uncertainty. I love the attitude of this quote I recently came across:
‘Let's find the unknown irresistible, let's sit in its calming presence and be glad that we are never 'lost' but wandering with purpose, excited, free, expectant. Loving the mystery of it all.’