coffee32.jpgRichard Foster, who for many years has worked with Renovare, has written about waiting.  Foster is the author of several good works related to spiritual formation including Spiritual Disciplines, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, and Life with God

Foster writes:

Waiting!  It is among the most universal of human experiences.

  • Waiting to begin school.
  • Waiting to get our braces off.
  • Waiting for our first date.
  • Waiting to graduate.
  • Waiting to marry.
  • Waiting for our first job.
  • Waiting for our first baby.
  • Waiting for our first house.
  • Waiting to retire.
  • Waiting . . . waiting to die.

Waiting is among the most common ventures in human life, and the more Christian spirituality touches common life redemptively the more it deepens in meaning.

Waiting is right at the heart of Christian spirituality.  Think of Moses waiting in the desert for silent year after silent year.  Think of Elijah, sequestered in his cave, keeping a lonely vigil over earthquake, wind, and fire.  Think of Mary waiting patiently for the fulfillment of the word of the Angel Gabriel.  Think of Saul — Saul who became Paul — being instructed by the Spirit in the deserts of Arabia for three solitary years.

Waiting is the hidden preparation through which God puts his ministers.  We neglect it to our peril.  I remember as a young, brash pastor waxing eloquent about Moses in the wilderness and telling the people that we need to learn all these lessons so that it won’t take us forty years like it did Moses.  Just then a wise and respected member of our fellowship spoke up calmly; "I doubt it!" he said.  Those three words took all the pompous air out of my sermon that day and taught us a valuable lesson.  Especially me.  Waiting is not something to be avoided at all costs.  In waiting we learn things that we learn in no other way.

(Read the remainder of the article here.) 

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12 thoughts on “Waiting

  1. Foster always stirs my thoughts and clears the fog. Thanks for sharing his thoughtful insights. I heard of the one word epitaph carved on a weathered headstone in a country cemetery: "Waiting."

  2. Perhaps in waiting we are invited to look around, survey what is right beside us. Makes me consider what the opposite of waiting is… is it just MAKING the thing happen, or is it something else?

  3. waiting seems to be that place which is between here and there…that space that is on the threshold of what could be a glorious beginning or a return to the past way… what many have called a liminal space. A place clearly of faith or a place where we begin to doubt and become embittered. We must reacquaint ourselves with this oft neglected but essential facet of our common faith in God.  For when we read the Psalms we stub our toes often on that four letter word. 

  4. L.L.–Now that is a good question!  What is the opposite of waiting?  Is it forcing the issue?  Is it insisting that things work out a certain way?  Is it deciding that I will not be content or happy unless things go according to My plan? 

  5. Jim, Thanks for sharing this, some realy excellent insights. I have been a bit bemused before when trying to navigate the renovare website, there doesn;t seem to be clear sections of new material? Thanks again, Liam

  6. Jim,
    I believe in life we wait it teaches us to follow God’s timing in life.  It develops with in us patience to understand that God will provide. He always take care of the needs we have in his own time.  Abraham and Sarah had to wait a long time for the blessing to finally come. The temple didn’t come in David’s time but God’s.  I believe it teachers us trust and dependance.  "I want patience and I want it now" ideology just doesn’t work in the will of God.  Thanks for making us think about our lives. God bless you brother!

  7. Referring to Thomas Kelly, Foster uses an arresting phrase in this article: "the flaming last fourth of his life". 
    Learning to wait with and on God, it seems, set Kelly’s autumn years on fire.
    There’s a lesson here for all of us, but perhaps especially for those of us in the second-clumsy-adolescence of our lives, middle age.