Life is full of waiting. We wait at the supermarket. We wait in traffic. We wait through the seasons. We wait for special days to finally come. It seems that we always have to wait for something. Of course, the old adage is "good things come to those who wait." Waiting is not easy. Waiting is not fun. Waiting requires patience, of which I have very little.
Some statistics show that the average person waits between 45 and 62 minutes per day. Considering that many of us work for at least 8 hours every day and sleep for 6 to 8 hours a day, nearly an hour of waiting is fairly significant. It might be counted as a waste of time if we look at it from the wrong perspective.
But I think that we sometimes mistakenly approach times of waiting. We have been duped into thinking that waiting means inactivity, means wasting time. But there is an activeness with which we need to approach times of waiting. While we may incorporate times of rest into periods of waiting, there is way that we can actively wait.
Recently, I got stuck in a significant traffic jam on 95 on my way to a seminary class. A trip that should have taken me less than 2 hours ended up taking 3 1/2 hours. My attitude was horrible because I just wanted to get to where I was going. My stress level rose and I tried to take control of a situation over which I had no control. All this did was increase my anxiety and stress level, eventually leading to a migraine. When I finally arrived at my destination, I was in such rough shape that it's a miracle that I was able to function as well as I did. Of course, after class, I still have to make the nearly 2 hour drive home.
Thinking through how I handled the situation and how I should have handled the situation convicted me. First off, I found out that the reason for the traffic jam was that a man was threatening to throw himself off of a bridge on I-95. In comparison to whatever he was going through in his life, I guess my life looks fairly simple. Thankfully, he did not follow through with his desire and was brought to a facility where he should receive help.
I also thought through the idea of being prepared. I generally carry books with me wherever I go. At any given time, I am generally reading at least one book. If I had had any wits about me, I would have simply pulled out a book and taken advantage of the time that I had to read in the car while waiting for traffic to clear. There was no one with me in the car, so I could have taken that time in silence and prayer to clear my head. Thinking back, there were probably a number of options that I had for things to do while I was waiting. But I chose poorly.
Yesterday and this morning, I was reminded by some friends of Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." When we come to times in our lives where we must wait, it is not always a passive waiting that we are called to. When we find ourselves in places where we need to wait, it doesn't mean sitting on our hands and doing nothing, we can actively wait, and I think we are called to actively wait.
We will face times of waiting in our lives, it is inevitable. These times are not to be avoided, but they can be embraced. What would happen if we took a different approach to waiting? What would happen if we were prepared to read, to write, to pray while we're waiting? What a difference it would make in our attitudes and probably the attitudes of the people around us.
Last Friday, I blew my opportunity to actively wait in the midst of what I was facing, but today is a new day. Through grace, I am given new opportunities and new mercies every morning that I awake, will I seize those opportunities? Waiting is unavoidable, wasting time isn't. May we embrace our times of waiting in order that we can approach them actively rather than passively.