Waiting, and Waiting, and Waiting on God

Christian or not, we all spend a lot of our lives waiting. Waiting, original watercolor by Steve Henderson

We lived two years in a rustically renovated barn while we built our house, paying for it as we went. There were six of us, four of whom were under 11, two significantly so.

The most frequent comment I heard, when the subject of my living in a barn came up in casual conversation, was,

“Oh, I would never have the patience to do that!”

And while patience is tirelessly extolled as a virtue, somehow every person managed to infuse the sense that there was something oddly wrong with me for being so . . . patient. I mean, nobody else on the planet could do what I was doing, so there must be something wrong with me for my extreme, over the top, beyond what Jesus could do, patience.

(This is the same reaction high school students employ toward the reader and thinker of the class — “Oh, you’re so . . . smart!”)

This is patience. This is stillness. Sometimes I’m like this; sometimes I’m not. Queen Anne’s Lace, original oil painting and signed limited edition print at Steve Henderson Fine Art; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Let me disabuse any of you, right now, of the notion that I am patient. I’m American, after all, which means I like waiting about as much as I enjoy cleaning hair out of the sink traps, and at birth, I was not gifted by God or fairy godmother by an extra dose of long suffering serenity. Actually, I think the bottle got knocked over and some of my portion spilled out onto the coffee table. (Until I had kids, I considered myself a fairly patient, agreeable sort of person; one night of a crying baby forced me to review my interpretation of myself; as the number and age of children increased, they joined me in assessing my tolerance level, with the universal concurrence that it’s relatively low.)

But you know what? I am not the only impatient person on this planet. We all are, to some degree, some of us having finessed our soft happy voice and expression of peace to an art form, but given the right circumstances, we all snap. While my living in a barn for two years was a choice, because I wanted to live many years more in a house that was paid for, it wasn’t easy sharing 1,000 square feet with six people, taking baths in a large plastic toy storage container, and washing dishes in a 1950s sink with a six-inch depth. When we weren’t working, we were building the house. Two years seemed like a long, long time.

“But it was your choice.”

Sometimes, seriously, it’s better just to nod our heads sagely and say nothing.

You rarely go wrong when you keep peacefully silent for a bit and contemplate the situation. Peace, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Whether or not what we’re doing is our choice, life happens — or actually, appears not to happen — and we spend a lot of time waiting: when you’ve lost your job, there’s only so much paperwork you can do applying for another one; the rest of the time is waiting. When you’re handed a bad medical diagnoses, there’s treatment of some sort, but most of the time is spent waiting for it to work, or not. Relationships? You’re up; you’re down, but anyone who has a phone and a new boyfriend/girlfriend knows that you spend more time waiting for a text or a call than you do talking.

You wait. You pray. You ask God to Do Something. And you wait. And wait. And wait. And while you keep living — believe me, if you don’t put up the sheetrock on your walls, no one’s going to volunteer to do it for you — what you really want to happen, the answer to your prayer, seems to take a long time.

Waiting is a universal part of human existence, and God understands this. Psalm 37:7 says,

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

Sometimes it’s good to reflect on the nature of the Person we are waiting on. On the Solid Rock I Stand poster by Steve Henderson

I can honestly say that of the ten words in this verse, I have spent eight years doing one of them — and it isn’t “patiently.”

You can’t quit. You can’t walk away. You can’t say, “That’s it. I’m done playing now.” When things are out of your hands, they’re out of yours and in His.

So add the rest of the nine words, not the least of which is the first two: be still. Rest. Breathe. Stop freaking out. Truly, trust This Guy. We live in a society of people who Do Things, but sometimes, the one and only thing God is asking us to do is nothing. Just wait.

I’m workin’ on it.

All of the fine art in my articles is by Steve Henderson. His work is available in all price ranges, so if you find something that you like, there is a way that you can own it:

Manufacturers and retailers — license Steve’s work through Art Licensing

Available in paperback and digital format at Amazon.com

Even while we’re waiting, we live — not much choice in that. If you’re waiting around for more money, which isn’t an infrequent request, please consider my book, Live Happily on Less, which talks about how to live well on the resources that we have been given. Paperback $12.99 and Digital $5.99 at Amazon.com — and you can flip through the table of contents and see what you’re getting into.

My rule about buying a book? If I can get one solid thing out of it that makes a difference in my life, then it’s worth the purchase price. Go ahead, give me a try.

This article is linked to Missonal Woman, A Peek into My Paradise, Simply Helping Him, The Better Mom, Michelle Derusha, A Mama’s Story, Coastal Charm, Growing Home, A wise Woman, A Little R and R, Deep Roots at Home, Wholehearted Home, Simply Helping Him, Thriving Thursday, Jenny Mullinix, Graced Simplicity, Essential Things, Christian Mom Blogger, Friday Flash Blog,

 

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15 Responses to “Waiting, and Waiting, and Waiting on God”

  1. joe says:

    Somewhere between 25000 and 40,000 children under five die daily. What do you suppose they are waiting on? From the beginning I taught my children the difference between “real” and “pretend.” Is your reality a god who would ask Abraham to kill his son and then say, “just kidding.” A god who would order the genocide of the Amalkites, every last man woman and child ox and ass? A god who would drown the world? Screw over Job on a dare from Satan?

    God doesn’t protect six year olds at Sandy Hook nor heal amputees, not one…

    Perhaps it’s time to dispense with Bronze Age fairy tales and deal in reality. We’re here now and working our way towards death which is an eternal void, probably much like what preceeded our lives.

    Perhaps “Waiting on Reality” would be a more appropriate title.

    I’m sure you’re a great person and I don’t mean to sound hostile but if you look around it’s generally the religious folk who are causing the problems…

    • Hi, Joe: You ask good questions. If there were good, solid answers, we would have them. As it is, we fumble our way through life, and the choice we have is to do it with God, or not. I have chosen to do it with God; you have not. That’s okay. We walk the path that looks best to us, and we walk, as you observe, toward death.

      I personally could not function in this difficult life, with its many many questions, without God. The alternative — nothingness — is too unbearable.

      The suffering that we see in this world stems from the actions of humans — humans who want more money, more stuff, more power, more of whatever, and they’ll hurt anyone they can to get it. That’s life without God.

      So why doesn’t He stop them? Probably because He’d have to blast us all away, because we all — no matter how nice and cool and neat we are — have the capacity to hurt others.

      You are right – people in the name of religion have caused many problems through the years — but religion isn’t God. At the same time, people without religion are doing a pretty good job of hurting and maiming and damaging as well. So, we either have hope, or we don’t. And if we do have hope, we either hope in 1) God, 2) humanity or 3) random chance. I’ll take door number 1.

  2. joe says:

    One other thing: I’m pretty sure that it’s immoral to lie to children and put the fear of hell and reward of heaven in their impressionable young minds? There is no verifiable evidence for the existence of God but plenty of evidence that children generally adopt their parents superstitions.

    Genome 2 pretty much proves that we share a common ancestors with the other primates… check out the double centromeres and try and explain…Life happens and most of its a disappointment… Maybe your blog will get some attention and you’ll eventually get a book contract, external recognition and de facto ego gratification…I hope so.

    At least our generation has gotten lucky by having the internet, not to mention safe tap water, the polio vaccine and mindless entertainment via Hollywood.

    My challenge to you: Stop with the “guidepostesque” musings and write about something real: Human suffering, the situation for women globally. Endless wars: Are we a republic or an empire? Why do black women on TV generally have to straighten their hair or otherwise anglicize their features? Why are Asian males so often portrayed as goofy or crazy?

    Eventually the Andromeda galaxy will smash in to the Milky Way and obliterate everything. Does that sound like an intelligent design?

    • Hello again, Joe: I agree with you that emphasizing, to young impressionable children, the concept of a fiery hell (which isn’t necessarily Biblical, incidentally) is not good. Better to show them love and acceptance, attributes of God.

      Believing in God, or not, is a faith issue — while there is no verifiable evidence of God, as in, He’s sitting in the chair over there, there is a similar lack for the verifiable non-existence of God. Science, as a pure concept, is a form of worship in itself — think about it, when we put our trust in science, what are we believing? In the conclusions drawn by the collective brains of the descendents of monkeys. And 1) those collective brains don’t agree (they are individual humans, after all) and 2) science is at the mercy of money — what pays, gets researched, and if the research doesn’t confirm the claims needed to sell the product — well, very rarely do the manufacturers or regulatory agencies say, “Oh really? Well, let’s pull the product then.”

      Wednesday is the day that I write on Christianity and matters of faith, so I you’d like to skip me on that day, I won’t be offended. As a lifestyle writer, I touch lightly on the absurdities of our modern society, part of which is the ineffectuality of Christianity in the 21st century religious establishment base. There are many people who write about the issues that you discuss, and I am sure that they are far more qualified at doing so than I.

      You are right — there is much pain and suffering in this world, and whether one believes in God or not, we can individually do our best to help those we can, with the resources that we have been given.

  3. Robert Moon says:

    Great Post – and I enjoyed your comments to Joe as much as your post!

    • Thank you, Robert. Joe has good thoughts, ones that humans have had throughout history, and I appreciate that he expressed them. We all look for answers, all throughout our lives, and we don’t find them if we don’t ask questions.

      You know, sometimes as Christians we trip up because we feel as if we have to have to answer to everything — I think that’s why some people get defensive or belligerent, which obviously isn’t a good thing but is a very human reaction. Ironically there is great comfort in being able to say, “I don’t know.” I would rather have no answer, and wait for awhile (until the life after this one), than deal with a cobbled together piece of poorly contrived explanatory fluff that sort of addresses the issues, but really doesn’t.

      I wish you a lovely day, one of peace, reflection, and joy. — Carolyn

    • lisa says:

      Me too! Very well put.

  4. Jamie Bishop says:

    Oh boy…patience. That’s one of the hardest things for me to have. We all go through different things in life that force us to WAIT and either we make the right choices, or we don’t. Sadly, too often I am not patient and take matters into my own hands, thus getting myself into trouble and having to learn things the hard way.

    http://www.lovingwhenithurts.com

  5. Val Young says:

    I truly enjoyed finding this blog today. The sheer fact that you believe in no debt really reached out to me. That was our number one criteria in finding a church home, and boy, did that weed out nearly all of them! But, you find the ones that are trying to follow EVERY word in the Bible that way. Good stuff!

    • Val — I believe in using what works, when it works, as long as it isn’t immoral. That being said, debt isn’t necessarily immoral, it’s just generally a good thing to not be in. For most people, however, they wouldn’t own a home if they couldn’t have a loan (we’ve had home loans before), and the best thing to do is have as little debt as possible, for as little time as possible.

      We do not have a church home. For many, many years we attended church, never really fitting in, and then one day, with one particular church that kept pushing and pushing and pushing the limits (all the time extolling its adherence to Biblical purity), we just snapped, and said, that’s it. We communicate with other Christians; we interact; we pray; we love; we support; but we can no longer play this game, and we’re done trying.

      That’s where we are. I’ll write about it some more some day. I am glad that you found a place where you are comfortable, and where hopefully you are free to grow, doubt, question, seek, analyze, reach, and thrive. — Carolyn

  6. lisa says:

    I agree with everything you’ve written in this post – very well said. In some translations “long-suffering” is used instead of “patience,” and often times I think that’s more appropriate. Great artwork, and I love it when you said, “You rarely go wrong when you keep peacefully silent for a bit and contemplate the situation.”

  7. Thank you for your thoughts you shared in this post on patience. I read every single word and was drawn in by your writing style (which is so engaging.) Thanks for sharing over at WholeHearted Wednesdays last week.

  8. What a beautifully written article. I relate to this so well – as we bought a renovation project last year. It’s slloooooooowww going – and soooo far from the finished product in our imaginations…but the inner rewards that we are reaping from it are so worth the process.

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