Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

The weight of the wait

When I was a teenage go-fer in a daily newspaper office, new additions to the ranks would get sent by one of the editors to the library, or some other part of the building. The “newbies” were to ask for what they believed to be a “big weight.”

The fresh-eyed messenger would be told to “hang on for a minute” by the person at the relevant desk. This person then disappeared somewhere into the back of the premises. After standing around expectantly for 30 minutes—sometimes up to 60—the go-fer would timidly ask someone else there what had happened to the person who was supposed to be helping them.

“You can go back now,” they would be told by the straight-faced worker. “You asked for a ‘big wait,’ and you’ve just had it.”

It shouldn’t really surprise us that we occasionally confuse the two. After all, sometimes the wait can be heavy.

Like today, as I wait several hours until the deputy handling a missing person report related to someone dear is back on duty so I can find out more. I missed a call from the police department this morning, but no one left a message. When I called back, no one knew what it was about, so I don’t know whether the caller had a question for me, or information.

So I wait until the officer in charge is available, and try not to crawl out of my skin in the meantime. It’s not always easy sitting in God’s waiting room.

But while I’m outwardly fidgety, inside all is strangely still. When you can’t do anything about it, sometimes the best thing is not to try to do anything about it. Just accept the weight of the wait.

I’m reminded of cliff-jumping some years ago. After the tingle and exhilaration of the plunge came moments when the water swallowed you. You didn’t know which was way up. No point in kicking for the surface until you knew where it was. You would just have to keep your mouth shut, hold your breath, and wait until you bottomed out.

And then, as everything slowed, you’d get a sense of which way was deeper still. The building pressure in your lungs would point you up to light, air, and relief. You’d break the surface with a grateful gasp.

Maybe you’re waiting on news of someone dear, too. The results of a medical test. The response to a job application. The answers to a long-time prayer.

May you have the grace for the weight of the wait. Don’t fight the descent. Take a deep breath, and hold on.

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