A Four Letter Word
In our culture, there is a four letter word that now rivals the nastiness and vileness of all other four letter words. When uttered, it’s a word that makes people incredibly uncomfortable and often confused. The word? “Wait.” Honestly, it’s not a word that we hear very often because, apparently, it is so vile! To suggest that we wait for something is sacrilegious and warrants angry responses. We live in an instant culture where everything is at our fingertips. If we want information during a dinner table discussion, we simply use Google from the phone in our pocket. And, if want a new phone, we simply use the credit card in our pocket. If we need a new credit card (because we just maxed out our card on the phone), some bank (somewhere) will be more than happy to oblige.
All this lack of waiting means that we lose something of ultimate value. We lose God. I don’t mean that we lose relationship with God or even that we lose belief in God, but we lose the experience of Him. And, that’s the point, right? I might be married and even have deep beliefs about the institution of marriage, but if I’m never home and never sit down to spend time with my wife, I’ve missed the point. The point of life is to do life with God. And, life with Him is that for which our souls long.
At this time of year, we are reminded that Jesus was also called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” The word “with” is significant. He promises to do life with us, and yet, we lose out on this with our inability to wait. The song book of the Scriptures (the Psalms) contains the word “wait” over and over again. (e.g., Psalm 27:14; 62:1; 130:6) Why the call to wait? Because relationships take time. Engaging at the heart level takes time. And, frankly, God is slow. He is gentle. He doesn’t foist Himself upon us.
Brother Curtis Almquist (SSJE) notes that “What grows tall and strong must also grow slowly and deep, or it will tumble. Depth takes time. God has all the time in the world. Though we live in a culture that so highly values instant access to everything, at least in the spiritual realm, we can only bear a little at time.”
We often don’t want to wait because we have come to believe that there are quick, simple solutions to the longings we feel. Daily, we long for Him but we often misdiagnose that longing and desire. In Romans 8:22-25, Paul accurately diagnoses our situation … “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Author Paula Gooder encourages the spiritual discipline of waiting as she writes: “Waiting draws us into a different way of being that does not rush to easy answers – that often have complex consequences – but takes account of not just our own welfare but that of all those around us. Waiting involves seeing differently and recognizing that quick answers are not always the best ones.”
The following is a great prayer for this Advent Season (a season of learning to wait):
“Loving God, I don’t like to wait. So I don’t wait to see the unfolding of your kingdom or to rejoice in the Savior you have given me, because I would have to relinquish control. Too often I end up creating my kingdom rather than turning to thy kingdom. Impatient, I stray from your presence, grasping at things and people rather than you alone to satisfy my deepest desires. You see, Lord, if I am really honest, while I believe in you, I don’t always trust that you’ll be there to pick up the pieces. This Advent, make my will one with yours so that I may put greater trust in true wealth – your saving presence.” (Andrew Carl Wisdom)