What we discover in the waiting

To live well we must learn to wait well, for life demands waiting. We wait at traffic lights for seconds, in grocery lines for minutes. We await test results for days, the arrival of a baby for nine months. For the most important things we may wait a lifetime.

Sometimes we try to minimize waiting, to speed up the process, or at least control it, filling the waiting moments. But we cannot eliminate waiting.  So, then, we might as well learn to wait well. For in the waiting, if we listen, we discover. . .

. . . . .

I wait. I watch as light dims and the crowd grows still larger, pressing forward, their only hope His touch.  It is unusual, such crowds at night. The night is full of dangers. People stay home in safety. But tonight is different.  We heard His words this morning, saw the man with a demon challenge His authority. Saw the man freed. We heard too of Simon’s mother-in-law, so ill the last few days we thought she would die, this afternoon serving guests.

Word like this, hope like this, spreads quickly. And so, fearful He will soon leave, the crowd gathers in the dusk, pleading for him to touch their loved one.

I wait. The crowd grows smaller now as one person after another, touched and healed by Jesus, moves away, rejoicing with those who had brought them. I am close enough now to see Him clearly.

I watch as a teenage mother holds out her firstborn for His touch. I see Him reach out and take the little bundle, loosening the strips of cloth so He can see the tiny chest. He observes with such compassion, touches with such gentleness. Despite weariness, He does not rush. It is as though the rest of the crowd is not there, His whole attention focused on that tiny life and her mother. I see the woman’s eyes on His face, watching for a sign of hope. His solemnity reflects the mother’s own concern, His eyes soft with compassion. I watch as He passes the baby back to her mother, his words and eyes touching as tenderly as his hands. The mother’s anxious face yields to hope and tears fill her eyes. She hugs her baby closer, receiving permission to love without fear of death’s imminent tearing.

And now I find myself at the front of the remaining stragglers. Jesus turns to me, smiling gentle encouragement as he watches me rise unsteadily.  I cross the few feet of ground between us, standing alone before Jesus, my eyes on the ground.

I want to look up, to see his face, but I can’t. Nor can I leave. I feel frozen, drawn to this man by my own longing and by some power far greater. Drawn to him. But still uncertain. Not uncertain that He can give me everything I want and need. I have seen His kindness, sensed that I can trust Him. Not uncertain of Him at all. Uncertain of myself. Inadequate. Unworthy to stand before him. Unsure even how to approach, how to ask for what I want. And so I wait. I stand long in that place, eyes on the ground. Watching his feet. Wondering.

He waits too. He does not speak. He does not touch me. Neither does He leave. He waits.

And in the waiting I learn it. There is a Love that waits long for me. A Love that longs enough to wait for me.

He waits until something within me breaks and I receive grace to look up.  My eyes are met by His, His filled with tears that speak what words cannot. They speak of love that feels my struggle, longs to take me in His arms and heal me, teaching me who I am. Love that respects me too much to touch me without my consent.

And I learn this too. The waiting, His and ours, communicates honor. Waiting in hope can be the greatest sign of our longing for another; the other waiting for us, the surest sign that we are deeply desired, truly loved. For in the waiting we demonstrate that the other is worth waiting for. Thus for the most important things we may wait a lifetime, the very waiting a crucial part of the growing of life and love.  I heard it somewhere this week. “We are no more diminished by our waiting than is a pregnant mother.”

A book-mark-sized resource which I am finding helpful in meeting Jesus personally in the gospels may be found here

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December 7 addendum:

Today I discovered where I heard those last words of my post. Here’s more of the beautiful picture:

“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us.  But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.  That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:22-28, The Message)

 

 

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