I’ve been waiting on my car for an hour. Getting tires put on your car shouldn’t take too long once the job actually begins. The man behind the desk, speaking like we’d been friends forever, assured me that they’d have me ready to go in no time. Great. I can wait.
I’ve been trying to get some work done, a task made nearly impossible by the background bickering coming from the courtroom reality shows. Judge Wopner and “The People’s Court” used to be the only act in town. Now those shows are a dime a dozen during daytime TV and most of them have very little to do with the law.
Now, having waited for an hour, the friendly man behind the desk has just explained that two of the tires are en route from the warehouse. I wish they’d told me that an hour ago. Now I’m here for another hour at least. I’m writing a devotional, but I’m not feeling too devotional myself.
A while ago I was willing to wait. The waiting didn’t seem like such a big deal. I’m aware of the fact that I was at peace with the whole waiting thing when two things were true. First, I felt like something productive was being done. Second, I had a general idea of when my waiting would end. Now it seems like nothing is being done, and I’m not sure when I’ll get out of here. This kind of waiting is hard to take.
Throughout the Psalms we find words of prayer uttered by people who knew what it was like to wait. Very often their waiting is more than mere inconvenience. It is anguish and confusion. This kind of waiting isn’t measured by the clock or the calendar as if simply marking time. The Psalms speak of waiting on the Lord.
Waiting can raise troubling questions about the presence and purposes of God. We can tolerate waiting when we know that something is happening and that at some point our waiting will come to an end. But we don’t always have these assurances.
There are sick people who are waiting on a cure. There are single people who are waiting and looking for love. There are foster children waiting to be adopted. There are would-be parents waiting to adopt. There are unemployed people waiting for a job offer. All of these experiences of waiting touch us at a level deeper than the passing of time. We begin to wonder what God is doing and why God doesn’t seem to be doing it with more urgency.
Even our minor inconveniences, like waiting on a car or sitting in traffic, can be spiritually instructive. To wait means to be taken out of the action, not in charge of the day’s agenda. Waiting shows us what’s true all the time. We’re not at the center of the universe.
This week we’ll spend a few days thinking and praying about our waiting. The prayers of a waiting people have much to tell us about what it means to wait well.
What are you waiting on today?
In our waiting, O Lord, we are often slow to pray. We complain, we worry, we doubt. Use the ordinary delays of this day as a way to teach us what it means to wait. Turn our attention to you as we turn loose of our tendency to manage every moment. We thank you for the gift of this day and place back in your hands. Amen.