Sunday, February 22, 2009

I Hate Waiting

The most-quoted-by-Christians movie ever has to be "The Princess Bride." We seem to have claimed that one as our own: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Great stuff. Of course, half of what Inigo says is hard to understand because of his thick Spanish accent. So it took me a little while to figure out how he responded to the Man in Black who, as he struggled up the Cliffs of Insanity, said, "I'm afraid you'll just have to wait."

Inigo mutters, "I hate waiting."

A man after my own heart. It's not mere impatience. I just don't know what to do with myself in those moments I'm standing in line, waiting for someone to arrive or sitting in traffic. Maybe I am just a bit too intense, but I always seem to waiting for someone because I find myself a mile ahead of them, whether in space or time. Is it possible for people to move so slow? Do they think I have all day? Nothing else to do?

Actually, if I had something else to do - something worthwhile - I wouldn't so much mind waiting. Maybe I should get an iPhone, because my intern Jordan always seems to have something to do on his, and he can take it anywhere. If I could so fill up those empty spaces with something that I was always doing, maybe I would be okay. Maybe I would never again feel like I had to wait.

Check this out:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

Hmmmmm... bad news. God wants me to wait.

I know a guy right now who is waiting on everything. That right job. That right girl. That right life. Everything around him seems so much "Not yet" that it should be enough to throw him into despair, and occasionally it does. But most days I admire his attitude and his ability to not be passive in his waiting. In fact, I think the things he has been waiting for so long are taking a back seat to the opportunities God keeps placing right in front of him, which will make him neither rich nor married nor famous. He feeds the homeless, he helps with a youth group, he is loyal to his friends. I'm pretty proud of him, and not just because he's my son.

But why does God make him wait? What is there about waiting that makes it a "good" thing? Why does God like it when we are in the position of "Not yet"? What is waiting all about?

Here comes the analogy, and once again my dog Keeah is the teacher. When we got her as a puppy, we saw that her brothers and sisters were all bigger than her, so I guess she was always at the back of the food line. Whenever we went to feed her, she became frantic in her efforts to reach the food, often knocking it out of our hands as we gave it to her. Right from the start we began teaching her to not touch her food until we told her to "Take it." Before long, if we forgot to tell her, she would just sit there, hopeful tail wagging and drool dripping on the floor. But she would wait.

Every morning when I feed her, there is that moment when her food is in her bowl and I haven't yet given the word, and she looks up and fixes her eyes on me, all expectation and anticipation. At that moment, there is nothing else in the world to that dog. I have her undivided attention. A bunny could run by and she wouldn't notice. And I am reminded again of what it means to wait for God.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.

Waiting for God is a good thing because we develop the certainty that he has what we need, and that at the right moment he will say, "Take it."

This is how I need to fill up my times of waiting: Eyes fixed on God, full attention, full anticipation, expecting that at any moment he will say, "Here it is; take it." Knowing that whatever he puts in my bowl is the right thing; that he can be trusted, that every good and perfect gift is from above.

Put the iPhone down. Fix your eyes on him, and wait.