The Spiritual Discipline of Waiting

prayerBy Joe LaGuardia

On the first day of school over a month ago, I did what I always do every year and walk each of my children to their classes to personally drop them off.

My daughter, ready to start her day, practically ran ahead of me and my son to get to class.  My son, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure about the day.  By the time we got to his class, I was tripping over him because he was holding on to my leg so tightly.

As any father would do, I tried to put on my best game face when we entered: I unpacked his book bag and pointed out toys spread throughout the room, and “Wow—wee, this is going to be a great day!”

His eyes became puffy, and I saw a tear well up in his eye.

Before entering the building I told my children that I would visit each of them once more before leaving to work.  Now that I dropped off my son, I had to go back to check on my daughter.  I told him that I had to visit his sister, that I would be back to see him too before I left.  He was a bit clingy, but he let me go.

When I returned to my son’s classroom, I was him and his teacher standing at the threshold of the classroom door.  I heard his teacher say, “See, I told you your daddy would be right back.”

I couldn’t get my son out of my mind that whole day, how he stood at the threshold with anticipating, anxious eyes—eyes that trusted in the single promise that I would return.

Psalm 27:14 tells us to “Wait upon the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage.”  Like my son waiting for me in the threshold of the classroom, we have found ourselves waiting eagerly for the Lord so many times in our own life.

We’ve waited on the Lord for employment, for retirement, for that doctor’s appointment we’ve been anticipating, or for that diagnosis or prognosis.  Caregivers wait for care receivers to find resources, fulfill obligations, and receive much-needed health benefits that lighten the load for the entire family.

Often, our anticipation turns into a slow prayerful meditation with a hope that the Lord will work a miracle.  Some of us are still waiting for our prayers to be answered.

Waiting is hard work and, too often, we end up moving on and doing our own thing because we get impatient or anxious.  While we toil while the Lord tarries,  our own trust and faith in him begins to wane and decay.

Its times like that when I think of Abraham and Sarah and God’s promise to let them bear a child.  God’s promise of an heir came to Abraham in the middle of his life.  I’m sure, because of his age, Abraham expected that promise to come to fruition quite quickly; Sarah had been barren, and she certainly wasn’t a spring chicken by the time she and Abraham left Ur at the Lord’s bidding.

So by the time we get to Genesis 15, we find a very anxious and uncertain Abraham, tossing and turning under the weight of having to wait so long.  It was in his darkest and most worrisome hour, however, that Abraham received a vision of the Lord.

“Do not be afraid,” God told Abraham, “I am your shield, and your reward will be great…You shall have an heir and your offspring shall number as many as there are stars in the sky.”

I could picture Abraham standing at his threshold door even after that night like my son, waiting for the return of the Lord and the promise that some time, some day, God would follow through with allowing Sarah to bear a child.

When God and God’s Word encourages us to “wait upon the Lord,” it is an active waiting that makes us aware of where God is at work.  Like Abraham hearing from the Lord, our own waiting fine-tunes our spiritual ears to perceive in the Spirit what God might be telling us to do today.   It’s filled with a hope to expect the unexpected at the least expected hour, and to place our trust in Christ every step of the way.

When God does show up, I picture the Holy Spirit, hands upon our shoulders reassuring us, “See, I told you your Father would come back.”


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