There were many steps I had to take to grow this plant properly, and so one by one, I started to complete them. First, I had to fill a small plastic container with the soil provided by the kit. Then, I had to sprinkle the tiny seeds on top of the soil, making sure not to bury them, which did seem a little odd. I then had to go out to purchase a gallon of distilled water (it was either that or collect my own rain water). Once I had the correct water, the next step was pretty tricky…you see most plants consume the water we give them when we pour the water on top of the soil. However, with a carnivorous Venus fly trap, the plant consumes its water from the bottom up, so I had to fill a tiny round tray with the distilled water and place it under the container holding the soil and seeds. This process turned out to be WAY more complicated than what I expected. But finally, I placed the container of soil and seeds in a well-lit area and went to look at what the next step was and the very next step said, “Wait.”
Now initially, that made sense. Of course I would have to wait. I was growing something, it doesn’t happen overnight. But as a few days turned into weeks, and a couple weeks turned into months, the waiting step turned out to be the most difficult one. Initially, I had an idea of how long I was willing to wait, but the waiting ended up being longer than I anticipated. The container of soil and seeds seemed to stay exactly the same as I waited and waited for the very first sprout. I quickly and easily grew impatient and bitter.
Waiting is a challenge for a lot of us. I mean, if something fun or exciting is coming up, one of the first things out of our mouths is, “Can’t wait!” We literally, cannot wait. In our culture of instant gratification, we like our food, fast. We want our text messages answered immediately. We avoid lines and traffic and the DMV at all costs. We hate to wait.
And yet we often find ourselves in much less trivial seasons of waiting. Waiting for answers. Waiting for cures. Waiting for a spouse. Waiting for a child. Waiting for a job. Waiting for a sign. Waiting for justice. Waiting for wholeness. Waiting for peace. We wait for our hopes to be realized. All throughout Scripture, we see God’s people wait for far longer than they probably would have liked or thought reasonable. We see some wait entire lifetimes, even generations. And we find that we too are called to wait. To wait on and for the Lord. We read snippets of Scripture like,
But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall soar with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Or Psalm 27:14:
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Or Psalm 130:5
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.
Or Romans 8:25
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Those are a mere handful of the passages in Scripture that speak to this theme of waiting. Several weeks ago, I asked you about your current struggles, the things you need help remembering. And a common theme I noticed was this struggle to wait patiently and faithfully. While I’m certainly not an expert in waiting, and while it’s something I often struggle with, I can offer a couple of things I’m learning and remembering while I wait.
First, waiting on God is not meant to be sedentary. God absolutely can and does work in stillness, I am a firm believer in that, but waiting is more than stillness. It could be an opportunity for quiet growth. As author and activist Christine Caine says, “Sometimes…you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.” When we wait for seeds to grow, things might not appear to be changing on the surface, but we know that below the surface, important work is being done. So we do what we can by providing light and water to the seeds when needed. In the same way, waiting is a time for purposeful, behind-the-scenes work. As Bill Widener once said to Theodore Roosevelt, “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.” It’s not about filling our time with distractions, but instead, being intentional with our time while we wait. Instead of just sitting there twiddling our thumbs, we look up and around and see how God might be at work and how God might be calling us, even in the waiting. Because waiting is not a waste.
Second, waiting is not meant to be solitary. We never wait alone. I’ve found there is a specific ache that comes with waiting, that comes with hope deferred. And at times, it’s easy to feel excruciating loneliness in the middle of the wait. It can often make waiting on the Lord seem impossible, maybe even cruel. But when we dig a little deeper, we find that perhaps waiting on God is more layered than we thought. The Hebrew word used for “wait on” or “wait for” in many of our Scripture passages that reference waiting is “qavah.” And it actually has more than one meaning. Qavah means to wait expectantly. But there’s also another meaning: to bind together. In our waiting, we are bound to God and God is bound to us. God enters in. God is present. God is with us as we actively wait. And so maybe the call is not only to wait FOR the Lord, but to wait WITH the Lord. To hold tightly to the promises found in Isaiah 43:2:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
God waits with us. God is with us in our longing, our pain, our uncertainty, our restlessness, our discouragement, our fear. God holds us, guides us, sits with us, and works in and through us while we wait.
Today, if you feel discouraged in your waiting, remember that God is with you in the middle of it. You are not alone. And your waiting will not be wasted. Because it is in our waiting that we become the people God calls us to be.