The Art of Waiting

10 Dec

How many weeks of our lives do we spend waiting?  Waiting at traffic lights, in stalled traffic on the freeway, in lines at receptions for weddings and funerals, and at doctor’s offices.  We wait for food at a restaurant.  We wait for our wives to get ready to go to the restaurant.  Some of us wait for weekends to come and some of us wait for church to end.  With all of this activity going on in this arena, it seems we should have mastered doing it.

Do you knit, or read, or strike up a conversation about the weather with someone you will never see again?  What is your WTT… wait time tolerance…the time elapsed before you feel like you are losing it?  Patience on empty.  Does it differ with your expectations?  Do you wait for 30 minutes at a doctor’s office or restaurant without too much struggle?  But does five minutes at a fast food stop seem like an eternity?  Are you peaceful in line until others cut the line in front of you?

This week has been a week of waiting in lines…and out of lines…in order…and out of order.  Through it all I have come to realize there is an art to waiting.  At least in Ethiopia, people sort of dabble with this art, but only a few are masters.  The expectation of getting respect.  As long as the person who an individual recognizes as being in line behind them is content.  Shows respect.  But if one person breaks line and tries to move ahead, all order breaks down.  It is then the art of Me First.  Expectations of waiting for one’s turn lasts only as long as the prevailing order of the system.  With no order people lose trust in the hope they will have equal opportunity so they create their own opportunity.  We become takers.  Time thieves.  In those situations respect and politeness and gentleness are cast away.  Being very large has an advantage.  Being very small does also because one can slip between the very large ones while they are watching for other very large ones to fend off with elbows hips and foot position.  Being pretty and female is also an advantage…until one-half hour before closing.

I wonder if God laughs when he sees how much value we put on what we think of as the time that we own.  When he created time and gave it a value he had to know that we would claim it as our possession and that we would have the potential to value our own use of it above all those around us. We can give His time back to Him in hope that in its use, we will share hope with hearts.  If not we can continue to force our way to the front of whatever line we find ourselves waiting in.  Waiting in line for life’s circumstances is pretty much the same.  Is it, “Now, God?” or, “Now!  God.”

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