Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Waiting Place

Are you in The Waiting Place?

Waiting for healing
Waiting for test results
Waiting for a tax refund
Waiting for clear direction
Waiting for interest rates to go up
Waiting for the phone to ring with a job offer
Waiting for a pregnancy test to turn out positive
Waiting for good news from graduate admissions
Waiting for me to write another blog post (sorry to keep you waiting!)

I've never been good at waiting. When God doled out patience I was nowhere in sight. In fact, I remember my grandma giving me an embroidered wall-hanging when I turned 9 or 10. It had a pretty little girl in a pink dress, surrounded by flowers. Across the top these words were carefully stitched: "Patience is a Virtue." Ouch. Apparently it was already obvious that I was allergic to The Waiting Place.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), we live in an age that has radically minimized waiting and radically transformed the way we wait. Anything I want to order on Amazon shows up on my doorstep in 2 days. We don't stand in line doing nothing, we text or check Facebook. Our kids don't look out the car windows, they watch DVD's. We don't wait for food, we don't wait for news, we don't wait for election results. It's all ours in a matter of seconds. (Which is why I like blogging. I can say what's on my mind and immediately everyone on the planet can hear about it. Aren't you glad about that?)

But even with all these technological advances, we still have to wait for the hard things. And I'm afraid we're so unaccustomed to waiting that it's become even harder for our generation.

Dr. Seuss describes The Waiting Place in Oh, the Places You'll Go!, and as usual he can make it all rhyme beautifully.

"The Waiting Place" in Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go!

"Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting."

But Dr. Seuss is dead wrong about something (am I allowed to say that?). He expresses what most of us feel about The Waiting Place, calling it "a most useless place." And it's not true.

Waiting is good for us.

Even when (especially when) we don't like it.

Waiting reminds us that we are not in control. We do not pull the levers on the great machine of life. We are not the source of new life, good health, clear thinking, or vocational satisfaction. We are small.

And what we do with our smallness is important.

We can kick and scream, whine and complain, worry and stress. Or we can learn to live in a place of faith, hope, and love. We can admit that we need God. The Waiting Place brings out our most selfish selves. It is prime time to let him transform us so that we can listen longer, think more clearly, care more deeply, and share more freely. That doesn't make it easy, but it does make it useful.

And so, for all my waiting friends . . . you know who you are . . . I am waiting with you. And trusting God to work it all out for his glory. May He answer quickly . . . but not so quickly that we miss the good gifts He has for us in The Waiting Place.

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