Wait­ing can be pro­duc­tive

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - CHURCH - SCOTT STE­WART Pea Ridge United Methodist and Bright­wa­ter Methodist churches

We don’t like to wait in line or at stop­lights. One of my pet peeves is the driver who man­ages to get into the left lane of the in­ter­state and go ex­actly the same speed as the ve­hi­cle next to it in the right lane, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble for me to go as fast as I want. Why do we want to save time? So we will have more of it to do the things we re­ally want to do which usu­ally means cram­ming as much ac­tiv­ity into the “saved” time as we pos­si­bly can.

Wait­ing is not some­thing we’re good at in this. Part of our prob­lem is our be­lief that wait­ing is a waste of time. It seems to be a time when noth­ing sig­nif­i­cant hap­pens. The im­por­tant thing, af­ter all, is what we’re wait­ing for. If we can shorten the time it takes to get to the pay­off, we feel that such a short­cut is good. If we can get that now, why wait? Now is bet­ter than later.

Chris­tian wait­ing is not like wait­ing in line at the bank or wait­ing for an in­come tax re­turn. It is not like tread­ing water.

Chris­tian wait­ing is not pas­sive. In­stead, it is an ac­tive wait­ing in which we pre­pare for what will be and ready our­selves for the com­ing of God’s Spirit. As Chris­tians, we be­lieve God has a fu­ture for us. Our ac­tive wait­ing con­sists in our pre­par­ing for that fu­ture by see­ing what it re­quires of us. What at­ti­tudes and skills do we need to be de­vel­op­ing now, so that when God’s fu­ture is ready for us, we will be ready for it?

Our wait­ing may be a cor­po­rate wait­ing, when we as a Chris­tian com­mu­nity wait for God’s fu­ture. Or the wait­ing may be very per­sonal—a wait­ing for the lab re­port from the doc­tor, or wait­ing for that per­son we long to know as a friend to re­spond to our over­tures of friend­ship and love. In such wait­ing, there are two gen­eral ques­tions we al­ways need to ask. First, what in our past can we af­firm as still vi­able for our fu­ture? Sec­ond, what in our past must we now be ready to give up in or­der to re­al­ize God’s fu­ture for us?

We al­ways want our wait­ing to end sooner rather than later. We are al­ways im­pa­tient to get on with things. But God’s time for us, like God’s time for Sarah and Abra­ham, Moses and David, may re­quire later rather than sooner. Our wait­ing may be short or long. In ei­ther case, our wait­ing is sure, be­cause the One we are await­ing is the Spirit of God, who is Lord of past, present and fu­ture.

God may not come when we want God to, but God al­ways comes in time. We can there­fore have con­fi­dence in our fu­ture, both as a Chris­tian com­mu­nity and as in­di­vid­u­als. We are await­ing the Spirit of God, and God al­ways comes in time.

•••

Ed­i­tor’s note: The Rev. Dr. Scott Ste­wart is the pas­tor of Pea Ridge United Methodist Church and Bright­wa­ter Methodist Church. He can be con­tacted at revjstew­[email protected] or 479-659-9519.

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