Wait a Minute . . . or More

“But those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NRSV).

Waiting does not come naturally to most of us. I hate to wait. I don’t like it when my telephone conversation is interrupted with, “Oops, I got another call. Can you wait a second?” I don’t like waiting at the airport. I don’t like being at a stoplight sitting behind some accelerator-challenged driver when the light turns green. Waiting is not my spiritual gift.

Yet much of life is about waiting.

There’s the waiting of the single person to see if God might have a partner in mind for him or her.

There’s the waiting of a childless couple, who yearns to start a family. There’s the waiting of somebody who longs to have work that seems to matter.

There’s the waiting of a deeply depressed person to wake up one morning with a desire to live. There’s the waiting of the kid who feels so hopeless, trapped in an abusive home. There’s the waiting of an elderly person in a nursing home for the mercy of death.

Lewis Smedes, in his book “Standing on the Promises,” puts it like this: “Waiting is our destiny as creatures who cannot by themselves bring about what they hope for. We wait in the darkness for a flame we cannot light. We wait in fear for a happy ending we cannot write. We wait for a ‘not yet’ that feels like a ‘not ever.’ Waiting is the hardest work of hope” (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998, 41-42).

As Hope for the Homeland evangelism draws to a close throughout the Northwest, we are reminded that sometimes we must wait for what it is we’re hoping for. As heralds of hope, we must never forget our hardest work—waiting. So we wait for people to make their final decisions to join God’s church. We wait for our homeland to be renewed by God’s Spirit. We wait for Jesus to come. It’s hard, but we wait anyway.

Not only do we wait corporately, we must wait personally. In Henri Nouwen’s book “Sabbatical Journeys,” he writes about some of his friends, the Flying Rodleighs, who are trapeze artists in the circus. They told Nouwen about the special relationship between the flyer and the catcher on the trapeze. The flyer is the one who lets go, and the catcher is the one who catches. It’s real important relationship—especially to the flyer. When the flyer is swinging high above the crowd on the trapeze, the moment comes when he must let go. As he arches in the air, his job is to remain as still as possible and wait for the strong hands of the catcher to pluck him from the air. This trapeze artist told Nouwen, “The flyer must never try to catch the catcher. He must wait in absolute trust” (The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1998, viii). The catcher will catch him, but he must wait.

Perhaps you feel entangled in a life that makes no sense. Maybe you’re burdened by busted relationships. Is your heart stressed? Are you fatigued? Do you feel hopeless?

Then wait. Wait upon the Lord.

December 01, 2002 / Fresh Start
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Karl Haffner is senior pastor of the Walla Walla College Church and writes from College Place, Wash.