Waiting is not my favourite game. I’ve played it often. As a child, I waited for the cookies as they cooled on the counter. I waited hours in closets that my brothers locked me in and weeks for my sister to emerge from the bathroom. Maybe she was writing a novel in there, I’m not sure. Years ago I met a woman who would become my wife, a woman I love more than anyone on earth, but one who took the waiting game to an entirely new level. I began waiting indoors, outdoors, in cars, on sidewalks, on park benches, in shopping centres. I like to get places quickly; Ramona likes to stop and smell the roses. Then she picks them, puts them in a vase, fills the vase with water, places that vase upon the table and admires the floral arrangement. Weeks pass. Finally, she hangs them upside down to dry. That’s when I feel like shooting the roses.
When I’m forced to wait, I think of old stories about lovers separated by thousands of miles, and an ocean or two, in the days before the Internet, the telephone and motorized transportation. They would etch out cave paintings on rocks and attach them to carrier pigeons. Or sometimes write out letters, with a pen, (do you remember those?) and wait months until they arrived. I think of Abraham. God promised that his descendants would be a great nation. Imagine the excitement. But at the age of 75, Abraham didn’t have a son to his name. Yet he trusted God, and continued to trust Him until he became a proud papa at the ripe age of 100. Twenty-five years after God made his promise.
I think of Simeon, a priest who waited his whole life to see the promised Messiah. When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the temple to be blessed, Simeon lifted him up and said, “Lord now let your servant depart in peace according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all the world to see. A light to lighten the Gentiles and the hope of your people Israel.” The waiting was over. The hope of the ages had come.
What are you waiting for today? Remember that God’s best gifts take time to arrive. Maybe you’re just waiting while shoe shopping with your wife. Or you’re waiting for a friend to turn back to God. Or a child to come home. I don’t have an easy answer. But we must believe that God is faithful, He has a plan, that our waiting is never wasted, even if we can’t see a happy ending from where we stand today. So keep praying, trusting, and learning patience. And take time to smell the roses, and resist the urge to shoot them.
Want to read more from Phil?
A friend has this on her voicemail; “I’m not available right now, but thanks for your call. I am making some changes…
Nothing makes me laugh quite like little kids. I was speaking at a Chinese church and a boy said to…