We live in an increasingly fast-paced world. With rapid changes in technology, we now live in an environment where everything we need is at our fingertips. If you are as old as I am, you will remember the painstaking efforts it took to plan a road trip. We would pull out our atlas and methodically plot out how to get from point A to point B. We didn’t have google maps to show us which route was faster, or had the most traffic, or was under construction. It was all just guesswork. The handy atlas was our only guide as we navigated unchartered territory. Often this unchartered territory came with much frustration over missed turns, road blocks and traffic accidents. While back in the day people spent a great deal of time lost, they also spent a great deal of time finding their way. Today, I simply plug my destination into navigation and start driving. The navigation guides me with the quickest route and continues to edit my path as I encounter unexpected traffic and detours. And it’s not just navigation that has revolutionized our lives. We live in a world where we rarely have to wait. We have cell phones so we can reach people immediately. Fresh groceries can be delivered to your door in an hour. If you are paleo, don’t worry, there is a meal delivery service to cater to your needs. Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu. Everything we need is just a click away. This instant society we live in, while very convenient, takes away the beauty and lessons we learn in the process of waiting.
For the majority of my life I have thought of waiting as inactive, just a period of time in which I was earnestly waiting for an outcome. When waiting is viewed as inactive it becomes wasted time and our desire to reach an outcome turns to worry and manipulation and frustration. Our entire existence becomes about the destination instead of the present journey. But waiting is actually a verb, and a verb is an action word. When we are able to embrace waiting as an action, it changes from wasted time to a valued experience.
I have become an expert at waiting, certainly not by choice, but rather circumstances beyond my control. The last 3 years of my life have felt like a constant place of waiting. I have painfully waited for biopsy results and blood work and labs. I have waited through chemo and surgery and clear margins. Every day I go and lay on a table as invisible lasers radiate my skin, and I wait with the expectation that any lingering cancer cells will be killed. And I have had to learn to actively wait and allow patience and suffering and perseverance to be my teachers. For it would be a travesty if the last 3 years were just about inactively waiting for an outcome. Yes, I have waited to be cancer free, but it has been the active journey that has shaped me and changed me in sweet and sacred ways. It’s been the painfully slow hand of time that has allowed me to sit in the dark corners and learn to patiently and actively wait.
Learning to actively wait is probably the hardest and most valuable thing I have learned in my 43 years in this world. Active waiting transforms worry and control into hope, expectation and purpose. I have yet to master the art of waiting, but I am continually being refined by its place in my life. And the most helpful thing I have learned in the journey of waiting is that I am not in control. With each step I take, at every turn, God is gently whispering to me “BE STILL”. BE STILL – calm down, surrender, seek, listen, accept. Being still is the very essence of actively waiting. We live in such a loud world. We are constantly inundated with the message that our value is tied to doing. We applaud people who are busy and spread thin. We look up to people that achieve greatness and wealth. But God is saying to wait and BE STILL. He is giving us the gift of freedom to have peace and rest in the hard things we face because He is in control. BE STILL. It’s like a rough rock in a riverbed that lays stationary for hundreds of years. It lays still while the water continually rushes over it, year after year. It seems dormant. It seems like nothing is happening. But you lift the rock from the water to find it changed and smooth and beautiful. And in the waiting, in the being still, the rock was transformed, not by doing but by waiting.
I find myself again in a place of waiting. And even after all that God has seen me through, I still find myself wanting to control and manipulate to get the outcome that I feel is right. Doubt and fear creep in as I try to speed up the clock and run from the hard. I don’t want to sit with patience. I don’t want to wait anymore. I don’t want to BE STILL. I’m really struggling to actively wait with purpose and expectation. I’m struggling to trust that God really is in control and will see me through both the journey and the outcome. I’m struggling to sit dormant in the riverbed and let Him erode my sharp edges and imperfections into something smooth and beautiful. Active waiting is not easy. BEING STILL is incredibly hard. But in this moment I’m trying to rest and quiet my heart and listen carefully. I’m trying to cease my doing and striving. I’m releasing my false sense of control and trading it in for peace and confidence. I’m believing that my waiting has purpose. I’m reluctantly laying down in the cold and painful water, trying to BE STILL as I actively wait for God’s love and mercy to rush over me and transform me in my journey, regardless of the outcome.
BE STILL and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10
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