Friday, September 18, 2015


In this life we spend a lot of time waiting- and almost as much time complaining about waiting. We, as a species, hate to wait! Lines at Walmart makes us crazy to the point that we cheat and get in the express lane with 21 items. We get impatient with traffic lights, yelling at them to change. We despise when it takes FOREVER (2.3 seconds) for a website to load. Even being put on hold ticks you off a little- admit it!  We hate to wait.

Growing up Quaker should have taught me a lot about waiting. The Friends Meeting I grew up in had periods of silence in which we waited on the Spirit to speak to each of us individually- and many weeks nothing happened. The Quaker camp I worked at for many years had quiet evenings on a hillside waiting for both the sunset and the presence of God. There were many lessons to be learned about patience and calm. But apparently I failed to learn them.

Nearly 30 years as a youth pastor should have gifted me with the patience of Job. In the church, people seldom do anything on time or in a timely manner. Parent's sign kids up late, kids show up late, church elders respond to your requests when it is too late- the list goes on and on. And then there is the matter of being patient with God's little puzzles that we call teenagers. They often surprise you when your expectations are low and often disappoint you when they are high. Without patience, the natural instinct would have been to abandon all hope. So you wait, and trust that God will use your efforts to make a difference in the long run. It has been said (often by me) that when you are in student ministry you never know if you had an impact on a student until after they have been gone from your ministry for 10 years. So you do your best...and you wait.

But all of that practice- all of the waiting- doesn't make it any easier to wait on God when we need answers. Scripture tells us that "they who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength (Psalm 8)" - which is a wonderful promise- but what are we supposed to do while we wait? Lately I have spent a lot of time in God's waiting room, and it has been a stressful experience. There have been prayers and waiting for signs of healing in a friend with cancer, and there have been no such signs. She is fading. So now we pray that God would release her from her pain and suffering...and we wait on that as well. Another friend with cancer is in the early stages of her fight, and we pray and wait and hope that the chemo treatments will work and she will be made whole again. I pray for miracles. We believe in God and we have faith in the doctors, but we still must wait for results. And it is just so hard. Many of you know that I find more theology in music than in theological teachings, and in this case it is Tom Petty who speaks the truth:

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
But the waiting is the hardest part

So what should we do while we wait on the LORD? How do we survive something we hate doing so much? First of all, we need to wait expectantly. We wait on answers to prayer and on God's movement in our lives because we expect it to happen. It will seldom be in what we think is a timely matter- but it will happen in God's time. If we trust in the God who loves us and have faith in the people who love us and who love the people we love, then the waiting becomes much more tolerable. We must wait with the grand expectation that God has an answer- even when we have no idea what that answer may be. Secondly, we need to wait with a willingness to learn. We learn to persevere when things don't seem to be going our way. We learn that we worship a crock pot God, not a microwave God. We place things in God's hands with the understanding that it often takes time to learn the outcome- no matter how crazy that makes us. We learn that we can very seldom "fix" the things we wish could be fixed and that we are NEVER really in control of anything outside of our own actions. Solutions require help, often in the form of faith in something or someone else- or both. We don't like that, but we must learn it. Waiting can be frustrating, painful and scary. But it is also necessary. We wait for answers and we wait for new strength. And we hate every minute of it...

My son is coming home from college for the weekend and is arriving this morning. So I suppose I should get ready for his arrival- and then wait on him to get here. It just never ends, does it? Have a blessed weekend, my friends!

Because of Jesus,

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9/18/2015

    Thank you so much for saying what so many of us feel- and you do it almost every day. Blessings, old friend!


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