I. Hate. Waiting.
It’s quite literally my least favorite thing. I’m terrible at it. Come to think of it, I probably hate it because I’m terrible at it. When I think of all the waiting rooms I sit in, both literal and figurative, my shoulders instinctively begin to tense up. It’s like muscle memory.
I mean, think about it; we wait all the time. Grocery stores. Doctors offices. Drive-thru lines. Text threads. Job interviews. Traffic. Phone calls. Bathrooms (insert potty dance). Email responses. The list of places we wait is as long as the line to get into Oracle Park for a Giants game during post-season. #hellalong
It’s not just my personal perception. Numerous studies have been done and the results are clear: we spend a lot of time waiting. One report noted the average American spends 13 hours on hold with customer service annually (cue terrible hold music). Another report estimates the average American spends nearly 38 hours waiting in traffic each year (can you say road rage). The New York Times once reported Americans annually spend (get ready) 37 billion hours waiting in line. I just had a flashback from Beetlejuice…you know that scene at the end where he’s holding number 9,998,383,750,000. Gross.
I don’t know about you, but something about waiting brings out the worst in me. Not all of the time, but definitely more than half. I already admitted to you that my shoulders tense up at the mere thought of waiting. Other symptoms include impatience, irritability, snarkiness, mindless scrolling, and a growing sense of entitlement. I’m sure there are more, but you get the idea. It’s not pretty.
Over the years, I’ve attempted to redeem the waiting process…make it less of a sanctification-rewind and more of a fruitful, god-honoring time. I’ve tried listening to podcasts, writing notes to friends, reading the Bible, being still, and more. While all of these things are good in and of themselves, all they did was mask over the internal angst I still felt while waiting. In the long-run, I failed at redeeming my waiting rooms. If I’m honest, the real reason I failed is because I’ve tapped into my own reserves instead of going to the source of all redemption. Jesus.
Last week, my friend Brad was giving a seminar on engaging with social media through the lens of the Christian faith. He said a lot of brilliant things that evening, but his response to a question someone asked regarding God’s plan to redeem all things, including social media and technology (based on Revelation 21:5) stood out. He said, “If God says ‘I am making all things new,’ then we have to believe that he means all things. We can participate in his redemption of social media as we engage it thoughtfully and prayerfully.” (Seriously, everyone needs a Brad in their life.) It got me thinking about how God doesn’t just promise to make all things new at the end; he said “I am making all things new.” Present-tense. Like right now. These words gave me hope for the waiting rooms of my life today.
Where am I going with all of this? Well for the past four years, I’ve been seated in the longest waiting room of my personal life: prayer. Out of all of the waiting rooms I’ve sat in, prayer is arguably the most difficult for me. It’s not the lack of any visible sign of existence. It’s not the reality that we have no sense of how long we might be waiting. It’s not because we can’t really do anything in our own power to expedite an answer. It’s not any of those things; it’s all of those things.
Every. Single. One. And some days, I want to scream.
Without going into the nitty-gritty details (I’m saving that for another post), Chris and I have been praying for a door to open for him in ministry. Right now, in fact, there is a specific door we are praying would open. Back story: nearly eight years ago, Chris sensed a call from God that he was to pursue a seminary education for the purpose of entering into pastoral ministry. We prayed for God to make the path clear – and he did. He was accepted into Fuller Theological Seminary, we moved to Sacramento in 2012, he graduated with his MDiv in 2015, and began the process of searching for a call in 2016. That was four years ago. Now you’re caught up.
So here we are. Praying. Waiting. Hoping. And it’s hard.
I have no way to know for certain how long we will be waiting. God has not sent an angel to announce the long-anticipated coming of the blessed day when Chris will get his “yes”. All we have is the very real presence of God in a time of uncertainty. Sometimes that is enough, and sometimes it isn’t. I wish I didn’t feel that way, but I do. Probably the most beautiful thing about it is that God knows that about me and still shows up every day.
So today, I listen, watch, and wait for him to move. I cannot force anything in this situation. There is no customer service center to call. There is no off-ramp to a backroad shortcut. I cannot handle things myself. I must have a seat and wait. His presence is the only thing I can be certain of in this waiting room. No matter the amount of time I have to wait and no matter the answer at the end, I will have spent four years and who knows how much longer in his presence. That is something worth waiting for.