Why Wait?

photo by sailor7cs.flickr.creative commons I write a lot about waiting, possibly because I think about it often. I find it terribly hard, when waiting, to think about other things besides what I am waiting for. It is as if I am stuck, mentally, on one mode. I am watching the pot, hoping to hear sounds of boiling.

This week, I've been wondering if I sometimes watch the wrong pot.

Waiting is all over in the Bible, God makes a promise: to Abraham, to Hannah, to David. They wait, and it comes to pass (though not often quickly, as I count quickness).

There are things that I am waiting for, good things, like Heaven, for example, promised to me and to other believers. I do not sit, believe it or not, and look to the sky, waiting for Jesus (at least not on most days). I try to follow the advice of Jeremiah 29:5, a message to other exiles, waiting to go home: "Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce." I don't believe that I'm intended to live (or better, fail to live) as if I am just passing though, and what happens on earth doesn't matter.

Most of the verses that I have found about waiting are about waiting for God. Not only in the sense of Heaven, but also in the everyday: stopping, listening and waiting for God to make Himself and His purposes know in my life, and in the world.

I do not always do this well.

I mistake my desires for God's calling, sometimes, and I wait and wait for that thing, and forget to wait for (or on) God, asking Him what He thinks of my ideas. I have spent a great portion of my life waiting for things which I am now convinced were never in His plan for me to begin with. I prayed for them, not about them. I presented my plan, I didn't ask Him for His.

photo by Brandon Warren.flickr.creative commons

God is kind to me, even in this. He is gentle, often, as He shows me that I am watching a pot with no fire underneath it, and directs my eyes to another, nearby, at a rollicking boil. Sometimes, I'm talking about soulful waiting in one corner, easily ignoring that which God has asked of me, no waiting required, right behind me.

My mom says a lot of things which stick in my ears, but this may be the thing which she says most often: "Focus on what God is doing, not on what He's not doing."

I am still not good at this, but I am getting better.

Far from saying that waiting is bad, I think that waiting has a purpose. Far from saying that those kettles with no fire will never be lit, I know that if God lights them, they will boil, no watching on my part required. The hard, beautiful thing for me is learning to notice, sooner rather than later, the boiling pots in front of me, and tend them, even if they are not what I expect.