Two Kinds of Waiting

[Blair Roberts, his wife Melissa, and their two daughters make their home in Regina, SK, where Blair works at the Glen Elm Church of Christ.  In spare time, Blair is a book fiend and a sports fan, faithful to both Roughriders and Canadiens.]

When I think of waiting, my mind goes two different directions.

The first direction is impatient waiting. Complaining while waiting. Selfishly waiting. Call it what you want, but waiting in the negative sense. We want something, we want it now. It’s as if what we are waiting for is less important than us. That us getting what we want is more important than what we are waiting for. We do this with lots of things. For me, it’s football/hockey season. Every year when the seasons finish, I slink into a depression of sorts, empty inside, desperately awaiting July 1 and that first week in October when the world will be set to rights again. But the truth is, those things come back every year, and the older I get, the more I realize how little they matter. Time waiting impatiently for something that doesn’t bring the satisfaction you dream it will. Another example is waiting in a long line, say at a bank. We don’t enjoy this process. We do nothing but stand, look at our watches and make impatient grunts to those around us because they understand. We get to the front, roll our eyes at the cashier as if they were at fault, and leave feeling unsatisfied. This type of waiting even happens amongst Christians awaiting the return of Jesus. There are some that would say He will come back soon, so why bother caring for the planet, why bother serving the poor, we are waiting for Jesus to come whisk us away. It’s a way of waiting that says we are what’s important, not the return of Jesus. This posture makes me uncomfortable. If Jesus came back and that’s the way I was living, I don’t want to know what he would say to me.

Then there’s another direction. Patiently waiting. Sincerely waiting. Anxiously awaiting. Call it what you want, but this is the waiting we are called to. It reminds me of someone who is an expert at their craft. While some are naturally talented, there is not one who is naturally an expert. They train vigorously, for years upon years to become excellent in what they do. I want to be an excellent waiter. Where I am anxiously awaiting the return of Jesus by practicing the way he wants me to live. None of us are ready for Jesus as we are now, so we must spend our time honing the craft of loving God and loving others so we are ready when he comes. Serving others. Following him. Giving of myself. Patiently putting in the practice of the presence of God in my life so that when he comes, my waiting will not have been selfish or careless, but beneficial and creating growth in myself and the world around me. I don’t want to just stand here, looking at my watch and groaning, complaining to others about why Jesus hasn’t come yet. I want to ready myself, as if preparing for a great guest, the greatest guest. Caring for people, for the world, for the things God cares about. Preparing others for his coming. I want to be ready, so that when he comes I can smile and feel at peace, rather than panic and scramble to be ready. If we really are waiting, and if we really believe that the gift of Jesus returning is the most incredible gift we could receive, we cannot wait selfishly. We cannot wait as if we are what is important. Jesus is all that matters. And if Jesus matters, so does the way in which we wait. The challenge for me is knowing the type of waiting I am called to and following through on that, rather than falling back on what’s easier for me. May God find us waiting the way he desires us to.

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