I’ve been doing a lot of waiting in the past seven days. First I (and our daughter) waited for my husband’s surgery to be finished. Then we waited for him to be out of recovery. We waited to hear test results. We waited for him to be discharged from the hospital. We even waited for the wheelchair to be delivered to his room!
Our daughter is the perfect companion in waiting. She was silent when necessary (we both range high on the introvert scale), but ready to chat when we needed that connection. She also bakes a mean cherry pie.
Even as we react differently in the waiting game according to the circumstances and our personalities, waiting itself has varied faces. Waiting for. Waiting while. Waiting in. But it’s waiting with that comes to mind today.
Yesterday our church congregation gathered for an afternoon service. Actually, it was a legally called business meeting but it turned out to be a celebratory service of worship, of acknowledging God’s leading and sovereignty over long months, of bowing before his so evident will. Without a pastor for almost two years, the seeking had been long, careful, detailed. Faithful men and women on the search committee submitted in prayer for discernment and wisdom while many of us in the congregation fervently humbled ourselves and prayed along with them.
While our church was admirably led and fed by a remarkable, much loved and respected leadership team during these months, I repeatedly heard this refrain: Why is it taking so long? Hidden within that question was this attitude: I’m tired of waiting. Could it be that while waiting for and waiting while, we weren’t waiting with God?
What does it look like to wait with God? In our daughter’s example I find a clue: she knew how and when to be silent and how and when to chat. Waiting with God means companionship. It means sitting consistently in his presence. It means ceasing our babbling and sitting silently in his presence. It means sitting long enough in his presence to hear his whisper. It means lingering over words or phrases in the Bible until God’s Holy Spirit speaks his personal message in our souls. It means waiting when God says nothing at all.
While reviewing this whole waiting thing, I was drawn to a story in the Old Testament book of Judges. Leader Gideon who has known success in the past is discouraged and defeated. God in the form of an angel addresses this overwhelmed leader: Hey you, mighty warrior, God is right here with you! (Marilyn’s translation.) And Gideon’s response is just like mine might have been: Yeah, right. Pardon me, Mr. Angel (I love this “pardon me” feeble attempt at honor!), if God is with us, and if I’m such a ‘mighty warrior,’ how come all this disaster has happened. He showed up big time to our ancestors with all sorts of high and mighty works, but right now he has obviously left the scene. Even after hearing that God is still on Gideon’s side, Gid still isn’t quite ready: Pardon me, God, I’m not your man… (Another ‘pardon me’ attempt.) More assurance from God along with instructions requiring Gideon to prepare an offering involving the time consuming killing and roasting of a goat, baking bread, etc.
Did Gideon wonder if God would hang around long enough for the cooking to get done? to fulfill his promise? to even show up? Gideon pleads with God to stay and his patient God responds, I will wait until you return. God will wait. He wasn’t going anywhere. He was very much waiting with Gideon.
As I practice waiting with God—and I suspect there’s more practicing on the horizon—I’m so very grateful God is waiting with me.
PS The surgery went as well as anticipated and my husband participates in the waiting game as strength seems slow to return and another (expected) surgery is in the future. Waiting lessons continue.