Recently two of my young children pooled their money and ordered long desired Lego sets from Amazon. They read the estimated date of delivery and immediately started counting down the days. Every day they said, “Mom, just X more days!” I knew to what they were referring without them having to say so.
As the window of delivery arrived they asked if they could check the mail. It was 7AM. No, honey, the mail has not arrived. It’s too early.
Now can we check them mail?
No, it’s only 10AM. The mail has not been delivered yet.
Now can we check the mail?
Still no. I mean, you can check, but it is not here yet.
And so it went all day long. They sat on the stairs with the best vantage point of the mailbox. Waiting, expecting, any minute now. Every time I passed them on the steps I had to walk around them and step over them as they waited with so much anticipation.
But the toys did not arrive the first day of the estimated window. They were bummed. But, surely tomorrow! Tomorrow they would arrive. And the whole thing was repeated on day 2. At one point I got a little exasperated. “Guys! Waiting by the window will not get your packages here any sooner. Go do something productive!” Reluctantly they decided to play outside probably because 1) they didn’t want me assigning them a chore and 2) they could spy on the mailbox outside without annoying me.
On day three of the estimated window I came home from running errands and they said, “9PM! We had [big sister] check Amazon for us. It will be delivered by 9PM! Can we stay up?!”
By dinner time that night they were assembling their Lego sets in full joy. The long-awaited toys had arrived earlier than 9PM, although later than the first day expected. But their delight was not at all diminished. Obviously they felt the packages were worth the wait.
I have been thinking about this, because I am so much like my kids. I asked my Father for some things. I have hope for delivery of some promises. I am antsy. I check that mailbox every day, multiple times a day. When, Lord? When will I see these things? I am impatient. The anticipation is so overwhelming. I wonder daily how long the Lord will have me wait. But maybe, like me, he is about to say, “Waiting by the window will not cause things to arrive any sooner. Go do something productive.”
Impatience or Longing
Do you think Jesus was ever impatient? I mean, he embraced humanity to the fullest. Does that mean he was ever impatient? Is impatience the grave fault I sometimes feel it is or is it a part of being human? I don’t know, but I do know that Jesus experienced longing, which maybe is the virtuous side of impatience. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus looks over Jerusalem and expresses his deep longing to gather together all the children of God the way a hen gathers together her young. And in Revelation 22, the Spirit AND the bride say, “Come!” As I wait by the window of my life yearning for the Spirit, maybe the Spirit is also yearning back, both of us saying, “Come already! How long must we wait?”
I don’t know much. I am less a theologian than a mystic. All I know is that I feel that I wait on the edge of revelation at the same time experiencing so much of God’s goodness that I can have no complaints. There is a fine line between childish impatience and holy longing for God’s perfect will.
When and how God works his will is actually not under my control, no matter how very hard I find myself wishing (which is not exactly praying). No matter how I press my face against the glass and strain my eyes for signs of delivery, I cannot will movement any more than my boys could as they waited for the mailman.
It comes down to what we do while we are waiting. Do I waste time sitting on the steps, looking futilely into the future? Or do I keep busy, do I get ready, do I find people to love and serve, do I cultivate the gratitude necessary in these moments of uncertainty?
The elephant in the room of my heart is always, “What if the promises never come?” The fathers of our faith speak from ancient times, “All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11)
I’m waiting. But I’m keeping busy. But I get distracted and waste time fretting. But then the Spirit calls me back to hope. So I wait. So I keep busy. Until I get distracted.
In all this cycle God remains steadfast, faithful, good. He waits with me.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.