Have you noticed fully this time of transition between seasons? The mornings and evenings are cool but the days are still hot. The trees, until recently, seem to have been waiting…waiting…
Henri Nouwen writes in his book Discernment, “Whenever there is a lack of clarity or ambiguous circumstances, it is time to wait” (p150). This reminds me of something my spiritual director often says: when we pray for an answer or for what we think we want, God will, in some way or another, answer either yes, no, or not now. In my impatience and frustration, I want the answer to come to me as clearly and quickly as shaking a Magic 8 Ball™. Unfortunately, it usually does not happen that way. Is that indeed unfortunate? Sure, it doesn’t meet our felt need for an immediate answer. But, God is ever drawing us closer in relationship to Him, and through this our deepest needs are met.
Nouwen gives us more about times of waiting: “Active waiting is being open to the promise yet to be fulfilled. Patient waiting is staying fully in the present moment. Expectant waiting is trusting that this long process will bear fruit” (p. 153). Active waiting involves looking for God in what is happening right before you. It is not passively waiting for the time to go by until the desired outcome is reached. Waiting with patience means to be fully present to what is happening now. Being present to what is happening now requires attention to yourself and those around you, and much can be learned from this. The tendency is to see now as being a waste of time, leading us to pass over it with little thought. Expectant waiting means trusting that God will deliver on God’s promises, that God will meet your deepest needs.
Discerning God’s movement and presence, and letting the waiting bring you into a closer connection with God, is the way of waiting for followers of Christ. Where in your life are you waiting? How might you engage fully with the present, and open yourself to God’s presence? Are you both talking and listening in prayer? How can you nurture yourself during this time?
Make room for waiting in whatever season you are experiencing now. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ASV).