The Theology of Waiting

The announcement comes over the public address, “I am sorry ladies and gentlemen, but our flight is delayed and we cannot yet give you an estimate as to when we might depart.”

There are groans all around you. A man sitting near you throws his magazine on an empty seat making a loud sound. A mother travelling with two small children wonders what is next as they try to get home from a trip to see family.

Waiting, always waiting…for something or someone. Life is this way and it seems like the waiting is never over. I have no doubt you are already thinking of yourself in a similar situation where you were waiting and not happy about it.

As I think about this waiting thing, it occurs to me that there is a certain theology in waiting. The Bible is full of stories that involve waiting.
Adam waited for Eve. Not like while she got ready for them to go have dinner, but as in there was no companionship until God gave him that gift.

Noah and his family waited in a boat for the rain to stop.

Mary and Joseph waited for the birth of the Christ child.

Story after story that involve waiting. Waiting for people. Waiting for answers. All these expectations waiting for results.

From a young age, I was taught to pray for my needs. The church I grew up in was pretty fundamentalist. I remember a Sunday School teacher, Barbara White, who drilled it into our heads that we had to pray for what we needed. If it didn’t work out, you either didn’t pray hard enough or your faith wasn’t strong enough. There’s a theology for you!

When I was 10, that prayer often included Bazooka bubble gum and a trip to the bakery my grandmother worked in that had the best donuts and those flat cookies in different shapes covered in icing. I remember often thinking about how God really wasn’t hearing me. Now, I am considerably older than 10 and yet today, if I let myself, I could think the same thing, that God isn’t really listening.

But friends, here’s the thing you got to ask yourself…
Is it God who is not listening, or I am just waiting to hear the answer I want?

So where’s the theology in all of this? I’ll tell you what I think.
God knows us. God loves us. And, as hard as it may be to understand, God knows the answers before the questions are asked.

So, the next time you are waiting, think about what you are waiting for. Are you waiting for what you expect? Or, are you open to receive God’s love through the Holy Spirit and gladly and gratefully accept the gifts offered no matter how close or far they are from your expectation?

I guess we have to wait and see. Amen.

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