Wait for it…

– Andy Wade –

Hello, your call is important to us. We will take your call in the order received. Your average wait time is approximately…

Do you like waiting? I sure hope so because you do a lot of it! (I believe these are all statistics from the USA)waiting

  • Waiting in general (overall) 45-62 minutes each day – for an average lifespan of 70 years, that’s three to five years waiting!
  • Waiting on hold? 43 days for the average American!
  • 38 hours a year waiting (stuck) in traffic for the average American commuter!
  • Six months waiting at red lights!
  • One hour/day waiting in lines – two-three years in a lifetime!
  • 2.5 days per year waiting for technology… … … … … … … … to load.

I don’t know about you, but I’m often a bit too impatient. I’ve got a lot to do and I want things to happen now!

One way to deal with all this waiting is to change our lifestyle. One study I found showed that the British only spend 72 days of their lives waiting compared to American’s three to five years!

Is there something about their lifestyle that accounts for the difference? Certainly if we simplify our lives we will wait less. If you’re in the Seattle area tomorrow night (Thursday, Feb. 13) you’ll want to attend “An Invitation to Simplicity” with Mark and Lisa Scandrette, co-sponsored by MSA and The Overflow Project.

How you spend your time is how you spend your life. And how you spend your life is shaped by your economic choices. In the deepest sense, simplicity is an invitation to align time and money with what matters most.   Mark Scandrette, Free: Spending your Time and Money on What Matters Most

You can probably look over that list above and think of things you could change to decrease waiting in you life.

But not all waiting is bad. Scripture tells us that “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Is. 40:31) I’ve never felt my strength renewed waiting on hold or sitting at a stop light!

Can waiting actually be a good thing? In my last post, Have You Tried Turning it Off and On Again, I spoke about the importance of regularly re-booting our spiritual lives. Re-booting requires a period of waiting, and that waiting results in renewal.

Gardening is also an act of waiting. During the winter we wait. There’s not much you can do with frozen ground. But some of us are reading, reviewing results from last year’s garden, and planning. Not unlike the season of Lent, winter becomes a time of reflection – even repentance – and preparing for change and new life.

front.snowI’m in the midst of planning a complete makeover of our front yard, removing all the grass and turning it into a sanctuary of rest (another kind of waiting) and sustenance. Cardboard and wood chips now cover the grass, but everything is now on hold as 17 inches of snow cover the frozen project. I must wait.

But there’s a difference between idly waiting and intentional waiting. In scripture, “waiting on the Lord” is not without intention; it requires prayer, active listening, review, repentance, and patience. If we say we’re “waiting on the Lord” but without intentionality, we’re really just wasting time waiting for God to “drop something on our laps”.

Since January I’ve been pouring over organic and heirloom seed catalogs planning for this year’s garden… but I must wait. The other day while talking with Christine Sine, she mentioned all the seed starts she already has going. I grumbled a bit, lamenting the fact that where I live our weather is a good four to six weeks behind Seattle’s. Waiting is not only seasonal, it’s positional.

This can be challenging to our individualistic spiritual attitudes. When we’re waiting, it can be difficult to celebrate the end-of-waiting that has come to our neighbor. And if we’ve emerged from a season of waiting, excited about the future and all that lies ahead, it can feel draining to listen to one who waits. Yet if we’re listening, “with eyes that see and ears that hear”, we discover another important aspect of waiting… waiting is best done in community.

Waiting can be difficult, even discouraging. But God graciously gives us the gift of community. Sometimes we all wait together – a community actively seeking God for direction. But we also wait together WITH one another. I may be entering a season of action and excitement following a time of patient listening. But even in the midst of my excitement, I wait. I wait with the ones around me who are waiting. I listen with those around me who are listening. I discern with those around be who are discerning.

The gift of community means that I never have to wait alone. The gift of community also means that we are all at different seasons and positions within our journey toward Christ, but even so, we can walk together. While I’m walking through a bitterly cold spiritual winter, someone else comes along who’s filled with the hope of springtime reminding me, encouraging me, not to give up. Another comes along filled with the warmth of love. And because we’ve entered this journey together, even in the depths of winter I find strength to come alongside the one who’s just now entering what may be a long, cold season of waiting.

  • Where are you along this journey?
  • Who are you walking with and how are you encouraging them?
  • Who’s walking with you? Have you thanked them for joining you on this journey?

Given all those statistics about waiting at the top of this post, how do you feel about waiting now? Perhaps even those agonizing commutes or times waiting in line can even be transformed.

I think I’ll write down the names of those I’m waiting with and what they’re (we’re) waiting for, and use these times to intentionally wait with them. And I think I’ll write down the names of those who wait with me, walk with me, and give thanks for their presence in my life.

Will you join me? What are you waiting for?