“But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” Hosea 12:6
They say patience is a virtue, but at times it feels more like torture than anything virtuous. Waiting is not something we are just wired to do — or at least do easily. In fact, we are forced into moments where waiting is necessary and since we are aware of our own discomfort with waiting, environments are created around us to distract us or deceive our senses into thinking we aren’t really waiting at all. Amusement parks are good at this where long lines form to ride a spectacular ride, they will snake everyone in line back and forth in order to give the appearance of a shorter line and to create the effect of a line that is always moving. A line that seems to be moving is the line I’ll jump in at the grocery store!
Life is very similar to this — it is fluid — always moving. This reminds me of the crazy waters dumped on New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. For the first time since they were engineered by the Army Corp of Engineers the levees were challenged that protected the city from rising waters. It was said they would never break, but the water became too great a challenge for the banks of the levee. Slowly they weakened against the subtle force of rising waters and the water spilled into the city bringing unimaginable destruction.
Water flows to the path of least resistance. My life has always somehow found it’s way following paths of least resistance. It feels easier that way doesn’t it? But, before long it’s flooded. God said (I didn’t listen), “Mark, the water is going to get deep, be patient I’m building the levee!” But life seemed to pour it on and pour it on in volumes I was unable to manage and I wasn’t going to allow anyone else to take control. So, I constructed my own walls to hold back the turbulent liquid of life — I did it my way. [Big mistake!]
Hindsight is always 20/20 — we look back and see the mistakes, usually coupled with more knowledge today than then. It’s a measure of growth and includes an experience where life has been sharpened and more thoroughly engaged. But there is something that comes with a spiritual hindsight that sharpens the focus of our vision and pierces the soul. It allows and readies us to wait.
The scripture is filled with patience! I think of Simeon in the courtyard waiting on the coming Christ child. I think of Noah waiting for the waters to subside. I think of Elijah waiting on the ravens. I think of Joseph left in a pit to die then sold to slavery. I think of the blind man. I think of the father of the prodigal son. I think of Nicodemus. I think of Jonah in the belly of a great fish. I think of Moses, then Jacob for Rebecca. I think of the people of Israel and their journey to the Promised Land. I think of Paul in prison. I think of Mary and Joseph. I think of Daniel in the den. I think of Sarah to bear children. I think of our Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives, on the shore, in a boat with stormy seas, with Mary and Martha, and I think of Him around the table with twelve He had chosen knowing their faith would be challenged.
It’s a time of waiting He calls us to. This is because our time of waiting on Him is a picture — a reflection — of Him imprinted upon our spirit. Nothing exemplifies this better than the story of the father waiting upon his prodigal son. It is a story of waiting, a story of redemption and unconditional love. It’s the best picture we have of our own Heavenly Father awaiting His children — you and me – to return to Him. But He waits. So also, I wait on Him. It is a period of time, while the world flows by, for me to embrace, to fellowship, to awaken to life flowing not the path of least resistance, but flowing straight up! Sue Monk Kidd says it best in her book, When The Heart Waits, “Crisis, change, all the myriad upheavals that blister the spirit and leave us groping–they aren’t voices simply of pain but also of creativity. And if we would only listen, we might hear such times becoming us to a season of waiting, to the place of fertile emptiness.”
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:25