Monday, April 20, 2009


I just finished waiting for my soup to heat up (and am eating it as I write this). While I stood there in front of the stove, I tried to think of what I could be doing with those few minutes (besides just standing there). Surely there was something more useful! I realized that I find it incredibly difficult to just wait. I get restless, and if my body is constrained, my mind darts around, trying to find something useful to think about! This semester, as I have waited to hear back from graduate schools, had been a bit draining. Why is it that I find waiting so difficult? Perhaps it is that waiting makes me feel useless. Perhaps I measure my worth too much by what I accomplish.

I don't think I am alone in feeling this way. Much of technological marketing seems to rely on the assumption that faster is better: the less time one has to spend waiting for a process to run on a computer, the better. If I can do my email on my iphone while waiting for the bus, my life will be enhanced. You can probably think of more examples. Or simply consider how annoyed or frustrated we tend to get when we have to wait in a long line for anything.

I do not want to suggest that we should all become lazy and spend our days waiting around for something to happen. I do want to suggest that we need to learn how to wait well. I know I do.

Consider how much of our spiritual life depends on waiting on the Lord. Isn't that what prayer is all about? The liturgical calendar also emphasizes this: over half of the year is "Ordinary Time", a time between the major celebrations. Other major seasons are also focused on preparation and waiting, such as Advent and Lent. Of course all these point to the ongoing waiting of the church. James speaks of the patience of the farmer as he waits for the land to yield its harvest (James 5:7). I'm sure there are things in my own life that I can seize as opportunities to learn how to wait, as a sort of training.

As Paul writes:
we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:23-25)
Looking at the world around me, and at my own life, I know that there is a long ways to the true fulfillment of our hope. I pray that I might learn grace in my waiting, and that we all might live patiently and expectantly "while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13)

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