Before we moved, a sweet family gave Calvin the book Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss. I am sure most people know it and have read it. It is all about the future and what it holds; all the adventures and unknowns that lie ahead. One of the sections says this:
You can get so confused that you'll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdest wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The Waiting Place... for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a place to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting...
Seuss describes "The Waiting Place" as a place that no one really wants to be. The only thing to do there is wait. Yet, it seems like a lot of life is just waiting, and I am not sure this is bad.
Taryn and I were talking the other day about the fact that it has been almost five years of waiting for the Lesotho program to match us with a child. We are just waiting. Doing this PhD is an extended lesson in learning to wait, not writing too soon, not expecting it all to come together all at once. I have a friend who has a PhD, published book, a good post-doctorate appoint, and he is still just waiting for a job offer to come together. A lot of life is just waiting. Waiting for the next thing, and even when the next thing comes, we are usually waiting for something else.
Waiting has been on my mind lately. I am convinced that the Lord teaches us the most when we learn to wait. It is hard to wait. We want everything to come together in our timing and when it doesn't, we get frustrated. Yet, all too often we need to learn this. We need to learn to wait.
Psalm 40 is a striking of learning to wait. It opens:
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
The psalmist had to wait for the Lord to hear him. The psalmist isn't saying that the Lord didn't actually hear the cry the moment he cried out, but that the Lord didn't respond immediately. The psalmist tells us that he was in the pit, in the mire, and yet the Lord didn't respond immediately. We don't know why the Lord didn't respond as soon as we cry out, but we know that the psalmist learned to wait patiently for the Lord to respond.
Learning to wait patiently is hard work. When we find ourselves in a place of distress or suffering, when we worry about what the future we will hold, we look to the Lord, call out to him, and expect an immediate response. When we don't get one, we can get frustrated. However, learning to be content in "The Waiting Place" seems to be paramount for growing in the Christian life. Learning to be content in "The Waiting Place" is learning to be content in life.