‘How long does it actually take to cook macaroni and cheese?’
‘How long is that?’
‘About the same amount of time it takes to read two of your books.’
‘Oh, that sounds like a long time, maybe I should just have a sandwich.’
‘When is she coming, Mommy, when?’
‘In about two hours.’
‘Oh, I’m going to go and wait by the window then.’
‘Umm, you might be there a while. Two hours is a long time to wait at a window.’
ONE minute later…’I’m tired of waiting. When did you say she was coming again?’
I’m not sure why I’ve been surprised to find that my children hate to wait. Patience is certainly not a natural virtue of mine. And if ten minutes in traffic seems like an hour to this 32 year old, it must seem like an eternity to a little guy who’s not even 3. Over the years and after the babies came, I decided to try and avoid the wait times as much as possible. Stay off of the busy roads, keep clear of the bustling restaurants, and certainly avoid the long lines. But try as I may, waiting is just a part of even the most everyday of lives.
And tracing my finger over the lives in Scripture, it seems that this is not just the American way or the way of this generation, waiting is the way of God.
- Noah hammered and sawed and built and climbed aboard…but then waited for the rain to fall. And then he waited for the rain to stop falling.
- Abram heard the call, loaded his wagon, and headed out…but then waited for the baby to come, for safety and settling in the ‘land God would show Him.’
- Moses saw the bush and called on Pharaoh…but then waited through ten plagues to be ‘let go.’ And then he waited for forty more years before Israel would finally cross the Jordan.
- David felt the oil run down his face and even slung his stone toward Goliath…but then waited for years before he finally sat on the promised throne.
The hospital waiting room, the dentist’s sitting room, the line at the red light, and the crowded entry toward the admission office. These are the places to flip through magazines and listlessly check the clock. These are the wasted minutes-we think, the ones we could do without, those that keep us from being efficient, making the most of our days.
But following the stories of Scripture, it seems that this waiting is where God does most of His work, where He reveals what’s truly in our hearts, and prepares us for what is ahead.
For my kids (and me), the waiting moments are the most dangerous part of the day. When we’re watching a pot boil or counting the minutes at the window, my little ones are sure to be tempted toward misbehavior. The idle moments reveal our idols and without help we can end up in so much trouble that we’re unable to enjoy the very thing we’ve been waiting for.
This certainly seemed to be true for God’s people
- It was after years had passed with no sign of a baby that Abram and Sara decided that Hagar should mother the promised child.
- It was while waiting for Moses’ return (with no end in sight) that Aaron and all of Israel made the golden calf.
- Waiting for Samuel to come (and seeing he was losing the crowd), Saul decided to offer the burnt offering himself.
But not everyone falls while waiting. Simeon and Anna had been ministering in the temple into their later years…and they’d both been waiting to see the Christ. And they did. They weren’t waiting for marriage or a new baby, arrival in a new land, or a change in government. They were waiting for Christ…and their patient waiting was rewarded with Christ Himself.
And He is the point of all this waiting. For while we may be yearning for macaroni and cheese, a friend to visit, a man to marry, a baby to hold, a child that turns to the Lord, or a relationship to form or heal…while all these yearnings may be good and God-given. God may not give them…or He may just not give them immediately. He tarries, not to drive us crazy, but to drive us to Him. He waits, not to cause us to sin, but to turn us from the sin of loving these things more than we love Him.
I am in the waiting room in so many ways these days. But, Lord, save me just from flipping through magazines and constantly checking the clock. Let me enjoy the moments that pass by enjoying YOU and as I wait, replace or at least overcome my desires for earthly things with a Simeon and Anna desire–to see and enjoy YOU.