Watch and Wait

When I first got back to Westminster from a summer sabbatical, I preached a sermon on God’s action in our lives. I talked about how God is always present, always moving, always acting in our lives, even when it feels like God is doing none of those things. I talked about how God has a habit of taking God’s people into the wilderness, or waiting room, and leaving them there for a season. I talked about how there’s vast importance to the waiting room experiences of life, even when it doesn’t feel like there should be.

And then, predictably, God led me to one of those waiting room experiences.

I really should have seen that coming. I mean if you’re going to talk a big game, you ought to back it up with action. The particulars don’t really matter that much, beyond saying that something I thought would line up this fall likely won’t be a reality until next year. Since learning that, it has been my every day task to keep myself from falling into a child-like temper-tantrum, because I want what I want right now!

So how have I handled the waiting room? By watching. Quite literally in fact. I have taken up the habit of starting my morning with a bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee, and about an hour on our porch rain or shine, just watching all the wildlife creep through my back yard. I’ve been biking more, and trying my best to pay attention to little details in my community that I might not have noticed. I’ve been trying to step back at Veritas or church on Sundays, to watch the people that gather in this place, to see how God is moving in their lives. I am waiting, to be sure. But I am not idle.

This is what we get wrong so frequently when we think about God’s action vs. our own. When I first found my way into the waiting room, I assumed it was my job to get me back out. Surely there was another number to call, or a meeting to schedule, or a paper to write that would move things along faster, right? But there was not. God made sure of it. I have to wait. When we assume that our action is the only way forward, we miss what action God is taking. So in all reality, this waiting room season is, at least for me, a gift.

I don’t always see it that clearly. Sometimes I still get mad and stomp the ground and wish things could be different. But I always find my way back to watching for God’s action. I always find myself on the lookout for what God is doing in my life, in my backyard, on bike rides, and even yes, in church. And at least for me, I have seen God in all kinds of new and unexpected ways in this season of waiting. I’ve seen God’s glorious creation. I’ve seen God’s beautiful community of saints. I’ve seen God’s bigness in unexpected places. Hopefully I’ve trained myself to keep doing that, so that I can continue the practice when I get out of the waiting room.

So if you are in the waiting room, keep your eyes peeled. You never know what’s coming next.

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