The Practice of Waiting Well

“Boys and Girls, please come to the carpet for story time.
Go ahead and sit Criss-Cross-Applesauce but not Indian Style because we don’t use that phrase anymore. 

Today I have a story to share with you called “Waiting” by Kevin Henkes.  He wrote some awesome picture books like Chrysanthemum, Lilly’s Plastic Purple Purse, and Wemberly Worried.  We love Kevin Henkes.

In the book, there are five toys that sit by the window and each of them are waiting.  The owl waits for the moon, the pig waits for the rain, the bear waits for the wind, the puppy waits for the snow, and the rabbit isn’t waiting for one particular thing- he just likes to look outside and wait….”

As I read this book, I started to envision not toys on the windowsill, but people.  The faces of dear friends all around me who were looking out their windows while I too sat at my window and waited.  We each anticipated something that was just out of reach, that next step of life that appeared brighter and better and more fulfilling.  The waiting didn’t discriminate toward any particular age or life season either.
Around me, I saw:

Waiting for a proposal
Waiting for a new job opportunity
Waiting for a positive pregnancy test
Waiting for the wedding day
Waiting for summer to start
Waiting for the adoption to be finalized
Waiting for the right person to marry
Waiting for the baby to hit developmental milestones
Waiting for your spouse to decide if they want to make the marriage work
Waiting for a house to buy
Waiting for retirement
Waiting for life to slow down
Waiting for life to speed up
Or maybe just waiting, like the rabbit, for the sake of waiting

It’s easy to focus on what we wait for, because we all have something that comes to mind. (hello- two, three, four things..) Rather, maybe we should spend some time reflecting on how we wait to determine if we are waiting well.

  1. What is the attitude of my heart and the focus of my mind as I wait?
    Waiting with impatience, anxiety, fear, anger, and even obsession means we are waiting with unbelief.  We wait with a high view of ourselves and a low view of God, when waiting well requires the opposite:  prayerfully submitting the attitude of our hearts and the focus of our minds to the One who created both and asking Him to help us in our unbelief (Mark 9:24).
  2. How have I believed the lie that “this next thing will be better and entirely fulfilling”?
    Often, “the next thing” that we’ve waited for (marriage, children, a new job) is a good gift and blessing.  When we determine that- fill in the blank- will finally satisfy us, we create a “functional savior”, meaning that we have attributed our identity and significance to something other than God and wrongly worship these good things as ultimate things (as Tim Keller says).Part of waiting well means that the hierarchy of our affections are ordered rightly.  If I believe that Jesus plus something will ensure my happiness, then I don’t believe that Jesus is enough.  Sadly, I embrace this lie far too often.  Expecting that “the next thing” will not be just a blessing, but a savior, is like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom.  It may be filling temporarily, but not for long.  I pray that my waiting submits to Jesus and finds rest and fulfillment in Him.
  3. Am I spending so much time focused on what’s ahead that I lose sight of the gift of right now?
    Looking back, I recognize times when I was so intent on moving my life forward from a particular season that I missed out on goodness that was happening around me.  In our waiting and anticipation, let’s resist having a fixed tunnel vision and choose to be present with thankfulness.

the practice (1)Waiting can be refining and stretching and wearying.  It’s not easy.  Waiting well means we’re trusting that God is wise enough to give us our food at the proper time (Psalm 145:15) and loving enough to fully satisfy us in this season and the next (Psalm 63:1-5).  We can trust God with our marital statuses, the people we love, the children we’re raising, jobs, next steps, moves, even the details of tomorrow. That’s good news, friends.
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