What do you think of when you read the word 'Wait'?
Do you smile, shrug, and go with the flow? Or does impatience rise from your stomach, constricting your throat while you become frustrated?
The more I thought about it, the more I realised that waiting happens a LOT in life. I find this infuriating. I'm a person who is severely lacking in patience and I have both feet firmly planted in the 'I want it now' generation.
I'm inclined to chime in with the obnoxious Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory (the classic 1971 version, of course); "Don't care how, I want it now!"
Even when praying for patience, I'm annoyed when I don't get it instantly! Yes, the irony is not lost on me.
And there are so many things to wait for; traffic lights, appointments, flights, trains, trams and buses, our food or coffee order, responses from people over email or text message, a change of weather (preferably hot-to-cool, thanks).
Last year, for me, the worst wait of all was waiting to see if we'd been successful in conceiving. But it didn't end there; I then waited weeks for my belly to look pregnant with child (not with excess donuts). And now, at 33 weeks pregnant, I wait to finish work, and then finally, to meet our little one.
One of my favourite songs to sing at church lately is 'Still, my soul be still', written by Keith and Kristyn Getty. It talks about trusting God, asking for a steadfast spirit and faith that won't be moved. A key line in the third verse that always strikes my heart is, 'Wait upon the Lord and hope will rise as stars appear when day is dimming.'
Doing a simple word search in the Bible, I found that waiting on the Lord is a constant theme. It equates to trusting, looking to God, hoping in Him.
But what do we wait on the Lord for?
In the Old Testament, David waited on the Lord for vindication and release from his enemies. Israel waited on the Lord to be set free from Egypt, from their wilderness wanderings, and from exile. They waited to receive the promise God had made to Abraham, of a new land, of blessing, and offspring.
In the New Testament, waiting on the Lord is spoken of primarily in terms of waiting for the return of Christ. Now that I can resonate with! Because when I look at the state of the world, yes, the good, but also the utter brokenness and evil that rages, I say along with the saints, 'How long, Oh Lord?' and 'Come, Lord Jesus, come!'
But even in the small things in life, the Bible encourages me to 'wait upon the Lord'. Whether I wait for spiritual growth (yes, even patience!), or physical needs to be met, I should be hoping, trusting in, and looking to God to provide for these things, rather than my own strength.
Waiting on the Lord – it's not just something I do once and then move on with life. It's an ongoing spiritual discipline which involves me being both active and passive.
I actively wait on the Lord by praying, by seeking His will, by going about my everyday life with Him at the centre. It's also an attitude change; by acknowledging that I wait on the Lord for all my needs; physical and spiritual, I lay down my own schemes and strategies and trust in what He will do.
I need not wait in anxiety or fear that He won't answer me. Instead, I can look at God's character and at His actions in the past to draw confidence that He will act again in accordance with His good character.
Of course, someone has already given a better, more in-depth treatment of this topic than I could hope to do here, and this is one of the quotes I loved from it;
"To wait on the Lord means learning to be content and patient as we cling to God in a fallen world and rest in His love and wisdom. Key to this is knowing that someday we will be in a perfect world that is everything this world is not."
Seriously, go and read the whole thing.
And while you do, ask yourself: what are you waiting for? And as you wait, in whom do you put your trust, hope and expectations to meet that need?
Sarah Urmston is based in Melbourne and shares a 5x7m flat with her husband, Stephen. She works with RMIT Melbourne's Christian Union group as an apprentice, and loves the privilege of sharing Jesus with the students. Since beginning student ministry, her desire – nay – need for coffee has grown exponentially.
Sarah Urmston's previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-urmston.html