I’m writing this by hand in the examination room at my doctor’s. The nurse brought me in here, took my blood pressure, then left telling me the doctor would be in shortly. That was forty-five minutes ago. The wifi reception is poor, so I can’t use my smart phone. I’ve read all the advisory leaflets, and glanced at the ragged copy of Good Housekeeping. I’m left to ponder the business of waiting.
I don’t think my blood pressure has gone up markedly in the time I have been kicking my heels: I know that caring for people’s health is not like handling a mortgage application. Sometimes things involving flesh and blood run over time—especially if one or the other is failing. But this sort of slack time-keeping certainly wouldn’t work in the banking world.
It does also strike me as rather ironic that when you make an appointment with the doctor, the front desk is always insistent that you arrive at least fifteen minutes before the scheduled time, to fill in any paperwork. As if you were actually going to get in to see him (or her) on time.
But waiting here, in the first days of Advent, makes me think about how many of us have a hard time waiting on God. I know I’m not alone in that, because I meet many people struggling, like me, with the frustrations of the—at times—seemingly rather vague divine timetable.
We feel like we’ve been left in God’s waiting room while He is busy with someone else.
Part of the problem is that we often tend to approach our relationship with God much the way we do our other engagements—as though He is something we get to schedule into our time, on our terms. It’s almost like we feel are doing Him a favor by fitting Him in. Or at least we’re treating Him as a choice we’ll switch out for some other one if things don’t work out the way we want, in the timing we want.
But over the past year-plus of waiting expectantly for the “new thing” I thought was just around the corner, I’m learning it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes we have to wait because we need to learn a few things—like maybe that, despite all our best efforts at running things for God, there are times when He wants us to just twiddle our thumbs and keep out of the way while He’s on the case.
Or sometimes we have to wait so that God can organize all the other little parts of the puzzle He is piecing together for us. Though we tend to think we are the center of the universe, it’s worth remembering that everyone else believes they are, too, so just think of the cosmic cat-herding He is having to do to sort all that out.
And sometimes we just have to wait because what we think is the most important thing in the world, the big question that needs to be answered, actually isn’t. It’s not that He’s too busy on more important stuff, just that what we think is the important stuff isn’t, in the grand scheme of things. God is as concerned about how we handle the waiting as what we do when He gives us our answer.
So I’ll try to stop fidgeting, and take this as one of those opportunities to be still and know that He is God. It could be just what the doctor ordered.