We live in a world of instant gratification. Why send a handwritten letter if you can get a text in a few seconds? Why spend hours in the library pouring over books if you can find the answer you’re looking for by typing in a few words into a search engine? Living in a world that is moving faster and faster, it makes sense that we might be losing a little bit of our patience. I’m definitely just as guilty as the next person. I struggle with patience and waiting, though lately I’ve started to understand just how important waiting is.
When I got home from Oxford I felt a deep longing for the place that became my home. All I wanted was to be back in the city of spires and books, but I didn’t want to wait to return, I wanted to be there now. What I’ve come to realize over the last year, however, is that, as hard as waiting is, it has a purpose. I’ve been back for almost nine months and, if everything goes as planned, I have more than a year until I will go back to England. That vast time gap used to seem so unbearable, and sometimes it still feels too long. But in this waiting and longing I’ve been reminded that God has a plan and that there is value in waiting.
For starters, waiting forces us to give up our own selfish desires and remember that it is God that is in control, not us. I remember being a very eager 17 year old, just entering my first year of college, and I thought I knew just where my life was going. I was going to be a journalist at some big metropolitan area newspaper. Or so I thought. I found out later that God had another plan, but I wasn’t going to understand that plan or even know what it was until I was able to say “Okay, God, I’m listening. I need you to take control of my life. Take my feet. Take my hands. Take my tongue. Use them to glorify you.” And then He made me wait.
And that waiting period in my life, that time where I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life, was so hard but so fulfilling. In the waiting I found peace. In the waiting God helped me grow. He was preparing me for something so wonderful. He was preparing me for Oxford, the place where I finally found home. The place I found myself and my calling. But then He took Oxford away, and I didn’t understand.
Why was He making me wait again? I see now what I have to do. I understand my calling. Isn’t that what I wanted? Isn’t that what I prayed for? Well, yes. But again I’m struggling to trust. I’m struggling to find peace. I’m struggling in this time of waiting. My prayer for months has been “Lord, let me hear you. Let me feel you. Help me to be content in the waiting.” I’m trying. I want to trust that He has a plan. And some days I feel at peace. Some days I am okay with the waiting. But other days I’m not okay. But then I am reminded of what I’m waiting for. Today I had one of those reminders as I was reading Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour. This book is for a class I’m taking this fall. I was not expecting it to give me a spiritual epiphany, but as I read these words tonight tears came to my eyes:
I felt a familiar thrill. To me it was like the comfortable silence between friends, a moment of quiet when nothing needs to be said—when you simply dwell in the warmth and joy of each other’s presence. Yes, that’s what I felt—that familiar presence… I was reliving, in a split second, those endless days when it seemed that I was actually walking alongside my childhood Companion, Jesus. Unmistakable, I felt a rush of joy stirring in my spirit.
I sat in this inner silence, swaddled in the feeling that in this place…I was home. Here, in this presence.
Chacour’s experience of discovering a home and a calling looked a lot different than my story, but these words felt like something I could have written when I was in Oxford. There I found an inner peace. And when I read these words I remembered what it was like to be home. And then I remembered that I have a Heavenly Father who has a plan. I remembered that He does not have us wait for nothing. I don’t know why I must wait for England now, but I know there has to be a reason, even if all it is is to remind me to put my life in His hands. So I will wait, and I will rest in His presence. And I will continue to pray “Take my feet. Take my hands. Take my tongue. Use them to glorify you. And teach me to wait in your presence.”