After this year, I feel a bit like an expert on waiting.
I’ve been waiting for one thing or another almost every single day of 2019. It started when I applied to graduate school in January and immediately became consumed with what my future held. Week after week I longed for answers about admission and financial aid, then a scholarship and TA position, and finally no small miracle to get me there.
Five months of waiting.
Once it became clear graduate school wasn’t going to pan out, I began the process of solidifying my post-grad plans. I waited for my internship to go full-time so I wouldn’t have to work three jobs anymore. I graduated in August and moved into a temporary job that ends in January. Even now, I’m still waiting on a permanent position to be finalized.
Six months of waiting.
I’m currently trying to move from Hyde Park to an apartment farther south. When I started my search in October, I needed a place to go, a roommate to move with, and someone to take over my room in my current house. I now have two of those things, but I can’t pull the trigger without all three. More waiting.
For the last decade, I’ve had my life pretty much mapped out for me. I entered middle school in 2009, high school in 2012, and college in 2016. The next move has always been clear, the path set before me. Now I’m in a stage of life where the next step could be virtually anything. In a way, it feels like a constant state of waiting. I know I want to be in ministry. I know I want to get married. But when will those things happen?
At this point, it’s just a matter of time.
So often the not-knowing feels like a dull ache that, if left unchecked, could spiral into full-on panic mode. I like to know what’s coming. In the past I would pray over the things in my life that were pending, but I’d still worry and make a plan B and C (or even D, E, and F). I knew in my head that God would take care of me, but my heart said otherwise, and that felt far more real.
So recently I’ve been wondering: Is there a better way to wait?
It’s the third week of Advent. I haven’t really observed Advent in the past — at least, not on a daily basis. It was more of a nice concept running in the background than a true season that I paid attention to. It’s a real shame, because I realize now that I’ve missed out on years of experiencing the deep joy that Advent can bring.
Perhaps it’s the yearning I’ve grown so accustomed to over the last 12 months, but observing Advent has taught me that there is something sacred about the waiting. Not the passive, stagnant kind that can so often feel like limbo, but the active kind that stirs your soul. Endurance. Anticipation. Preparation. I recently read an article about how longing makes Advent more poignant, and that has never felt more true. It’s a season of expectation for a long-awaited answer — a final Answer centuries in the making.
There is beauty in the leaning. There is strength in dependence. The waiting makes us that much more aware of our need for God. We can’t conjure answers or speed up time or make our own way; we simply have to wait. And as Christians, we have the glorious call to wait with expectation:
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!Psalm 27:14
The Hebrew word used in the verse above is qavah, an active verb meaning “to look eagerly for,” “to lie in wait for,” or in some cases, “to collect.” I find the latter definition particularly interesting, because it paints an image of preparation. Collect your things; get your house in order. Be ready.
Recently a friend shared with me that in biblical times, once a groom and bride were engaged, the groom would leave to prepare a place for the couple to live once they were married. Only when the father of the groom approved of the place for the couple would he return to the bride. Upon his return, the bride and groom would be married almost immediately, but the bride had no idea when that would be. She just had to be ready.
I want to wait like that — expectant and ready. Not bemoaning my circumstances as though relief will never come, but joyful in the assurance that the Answer is already on its way.
If there is something you are waiting for, a story years in the making that you feel may never conclude, take heart. The end is known and paid for. Your victory is safe with Jesus. Much like the Christmas story, the wheels have been in motion long before you or I were even born. Do not be afraid to wait expectantly.
As we move into Christmas week, the new year, and a new decade, let every heart prepare Him room.