The Discipline of Waiting



Of all things that we humans do poorly, waiting (for or on almost anything) is where we are most likely to score a poor grade. It’s strange that we struggle with it when we have so many opportunities to experience it. We experience it in big and small ways more times than we can count. If practice makes us better at anything, I wonder why we don’t improve more in this area?


Some of our “waiting practice” goes with whatever season of life we find ourselves in. As children we are waiting for a new bike, waiting for Christmas, waiting to go camping, waiting for the treat I was promised, and waiting to grow up to be able to do all the things I see older kids getting to do. A bit later those same children are waiting to graduate from school, waiting to buy their first car, or waiting on that right person to share the rest of life with.


Adulthood brings other waiting related to the season. There are things like waiting on a promotion or a raise, waiting for a child to be born, waiting for a service member to return home, waiting for a diagnosis, waiting on approval for a mortgage, and more.


There are all those mundane daily kinds of waiting too. There is the “waiting in line” at grocery stores, gas pumps, theaters, doctor’s offices, traffic lights, and toll plazas.


Waiting exposes the truth we cannot avoid: We are not in control.


Waiting tests what we know or believe about ourselves, the situation I am in, and certainly what I know or believe about the Lord and His faithfulness, mercy, and goodness. What I know and believe will have a direct influence on my level of hope.


In Learning to Know Esther Meek reminds us of what hope can be:


“…well-placed hope does not disappoint us. It is not a certainty, but it is perhaps delicious for its anticipation. We rejoice in the prospect of knowing.”


As believers we wait in expectation for God’s coming. To the degree we know the truth Scripture teaches us, we watch for Him as a result of the fulfillment of the first promise of His coming to earth. Without a certainty of when He will arrive, we have the confidence that He will. The first knowing helps us to have confidence in the promise of His return. Wisdom teaches us what Esther Meek points out: “Certainty is an illusion.”


 The discipline of waiting does help us to know ourselves and the Lord better if we are willing to recognize that, but it also helps the Lord to know us better. Perhaps we fear that as well.


For all the times in Scripture that we see someone long to know, see, or hear from the Lord, when He shows up as an angel, in a burning bush, or as a warrior what happens first is very often fear or terror. Quoting Esther Meek again, The gaze of God is both what we fear and what we can’t do without…Our knowing is warped, especially when it comes to knowing God, because of human rebellion against God. There is something inside us that doesn’t want to know him, even as another part of us does. Our blindness thus requires the terror of his meeting us.”


 In the timeless work of C.S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy very much wants Mr. Beaver to assure her this lion he speaks of (Aslan) is safe. Most of us recall Mr. Beaver’s answer: “Safe! Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good! He is the king, I tell you.”


 The discipline of waiting turns us toward seeking to know the Lord and His response to where we are and how we are.


What we miss is that He is the one who is pursuing us!


He pursues us in the midst of our waiting and for whatever we may feel about that, His pursuit of us is what will lead to calm in the midst of waiting. Lucy discovered that and chose not to run.


“Seated on the back of a loving lion, as Lucy found, is the best of all possible places to be.” Esther Meek




9 thoughts on “The Discipline of Waiting

  1. Waiting reveals our true grit or lack of! I love it that you said of all creatures , we have the most opportunities to learn the art of waiting well. D- often, is my grade. Great post!

    1. pam – what a great 31 days of writing topic this could be – maybe 61 (I’ll wait for it)
      what do you think, Susan?

  2. I needed to be reminded of these words, “The discipline of waiting does help us to know ourselves and the Lord better if we are willing to recognize that, but it also helps the Lord to know us better.” Just yesterday I had to remind myself to let go and let God. It seems the current situation with Hurricane Irma has created a sense of urgency in me. I am praying through this! Thank you for sharing – your words are encouraging!

    1. Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey have undoubtedly brought that test to many and I cannot fully imagine how hard it must be as I watch the images on TV and listen to the news. So glad what the Lord led me to write was encouraging. Sometimes I am well aware what I share was first God’s admonition to me!! Praying blessings on you today!!🌹

  3. Pam, I hate to wait. My dear sweet husband provides many opportunities. 🙂 I was wondering last night as I waited for him to join me to watch something we’d recorded why I’m so impatient! You are right. Waiting shows we are not in control. And that lets us know how dependent we are. Thanks for this!

    1. Me too! Me too! My sweet darling gives me many opportunities as well!😊 That has been true through the whole of our marriage, but retirement has brought new practice opportunities since we are together a great deal more.

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