Waiting Well

Waiting, not something we do well in our culture, but something we find ourselves doing at some point almost each and every day.  We wait in stopped traffic, we wait in drive-throughs at pharmacies or fast food.  We wait in check out lines at stores and of course we wait in waiting rooms built expressly for the very purpose of waiting.  We wait “on hold” on the phone, listening to music not of our choosing, while waiting for the next available operator.  We probably don’t want to know just how much of our valuable time we spend waiting.

I for one, almost always pick the wrong line at the grocery store.  Its a personal challenge with me to see if I “win” or “lose” each time.  There is a formula that I employ (for all the good it does me).  I take into account first the variable of, number of customers in any given line.  But this doesn’t tell me everything I need to know.  Next, I must consider the number of items in each customer’s cart.  This, of course, has to be a quick estimate as other customers are quickly joining each and every available open line while I pause to consider my options and place my bet on the line I think will move the fastest.  Another variable to consider is the chattiness and or speed of the person at the register.  This is harder to ascertain until you have made your choice and now while waiting have the time to observe the cashier in action.  Then it is too late, unless I really want to gamble and switch lines.  And of course the unforeseen variables of the price check or the non-working credit card are just that, unforeseen, and therefore are difficult to factor in ahead of time.  Let’s just say I’ve lost more than I’ve won, I always seem to pick the slower lane.  Good thing I’m not a gambler.

But we all seem to be waiting on something.  We’re waiting for our luck to change, for our ship to come in, for our lotto number to be drawn, for the promotion at work.  We’re waiting for love to find us, (or us to find love).  We’re waiting for our team to win, for a good report about our health.  We’re waiting to be discovered, we’re waiting for our big break.  Youth are waiting ’till they can drive, college grads are waiting for their first “real” job.  Workers are waiting until they can retire.  We spend the week waiting for the weekend.  We’re waiting for reconciliation with that friend or family member.  We’re waiting for justice to be done, for the wrongs done us to be righted. We’re waiting for healing.  We wait for better days.  We wait for peace in our day.  It seems we spend our lives waiting.

I blame the microwave.  Is that when it all started?  When the microwave replaced the crock pot. Is that when instant became preferable over process?  Or we could blame the internet, with instant access to everything.  We are not a patient people.  Were we ever?  Farmers were and are of necessity.  Everything in its season, there is nothing instant about growing crops or animals.  But so few of us are farmers now.  We haven’t learned the art of waiting well.

In Spanish the word for,  to wait,  is “esperar”.  This word also means “to hope” in Spanish.  The same word for both “wait” and “hope”, which I think is telling.  To wait is to hope and to hope is to be waiting for whatever the object of that hope is.  They are inseparable.  Even while waiting in stopped traffic, I am waiting with the hope that I will eventually arrive at my desired destination.

Isaiah 40:31 reads, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”, in one translation and in another the same passage reads, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”   Both end with “They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”   Waiting and hoping, hoping and waiting,  this is the experience of living.  As dreams are realized, new dreams appear to take their place.  We are again waiting with hope, hoping in the wait.

The fourth stanza of the hymn “Amazing Grace” says,  “The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures;”.   Because He is the object of my hope, I can rest secure.  I may grow weary in the wait but He can renew my strength and enable me to wait well.  As I wait for the miracles needed to move my mountains,  may I hang on to my mustard seed of faith and show mercy to all I meet, (even those in the grocery store checkout line).

sincerely,                Grace Day

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