December 2019

In the School of Waiting

I’m a firm believer that one of life’s greatest and most exquisite treasures is the experience of anticipating a sure and delightful thing. Remember the delicious agony of waiting for Christmas Day when you were a child? Or, looking forward to that birthday when you would no longer be “something and a half”? Maybe, it was the last time you stood at the window waiting for a dear friend to arrive for lunch, and longing for sweet fellowship to be enhanced by sight, touch and smell. When we are young, these waitings seem to hang on the slow march of time. Somehow, as we grow older, these waitings become more valuable. We learn how to enjoy the anticipation rather than try to rush toward the event. Experience has taught us: it will come, and when it comes it will soon be over.

Of course, we spend time waiting for all manner of events to occur. And not all of them are pleasant. Some are not really very significant: waiting in line at the grocery store for your turn with the cashier; sitting at a stop light; counting the cars on a train at a railway crossing. I still find waiting in the dentist’s office a stressful few minutes, even though I know full well it will be over (for better or for worse) in less than an hour. There are, also, much more serious events, such as waiting for those test results from the cardiologist, the oncologist, or the pathologist. These waitings can be fraught with anxiety or press us to desperate seeking. When you stop to think about it, we spend an awful lot of time waiting, don’t we?

In these modern days, there are so many ways to occupy the waiting times. We have electronic devices that enable us to check our calendar, make a to-do list, set reminders, research an idle curiosity, read a book, or listen to a podcast. It’s as though we are afraid to watch the time go without filling it with something. My father used to call it “killing time.” Filling the time with anything at all because the important thing is yet to come. When we do this, have we really “filled” the time? Or are we simply “killing” time?

Wouldn’t it be better to let time fill us? After all, as believers, we are not victims of time. God started the clock ticking toward the culmination of His will for His creation. Time comes to us; it does not flee from us. As time comes toward us, it brings all His promises. Jesus will come again. We will see Him. We will be with Him. We will be like Him. Because, His desire will be accomplished, and He will present us faultless and blameless to His Father, our Father. Faith makes these future events ours as sure as the Sun rises each day. Hope clings to Him who fills all in all.

You probably know this old hymn. It was one of my father’s favorites. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in Him be found, dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.”

How do you spend your waiting time? Is He filling you while you wait? Is He teaching you to hope, to expect, to anticipate? Ps 27:13-14 says, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Until next week, dear one, wait on the Lord, eagerly watch for Him, and expect to see Him.

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