Two Kinds of Waiting

There are two kinds of waiting:

  • There is the kind of waiting where we are anticipating something happening
  • We wait to board a plane
  • We wait in traffic
  • We wait to be seated in a restaurant

This is the kind of waiting that makes us impatient. It is when the waiting becomes something for us to overcome.

Dr. Andrew Root wrote about this kind of waiting in his book, “Churches and the Crisis of Decline; A Hopeful, Practical Ecclesiology for a Secular Age.” It is one of the books on my sabbatical reading list.

But according to Dr. Root, there is a second king of waiting: It is the “waiting of being.” 

Dr. Root writes that: ‘Waiting as a way of being…is to release control. To wait as a way of being is to be dependent on something that is not you. To get busy, to always be busy, is to give us a sense of control, which we often equate with freedom. To stand still and wait for the arrival of something outside us, on the other hand, is to surrender our freedom of taking hurried steps to have what we want in the world.”

The first kind of waiting always has us looking for what comes next. The second kind of waiting helps us discover how to simply “be” in the moment we occupy. It encourages us to look around, and to see how God is working in the world at that precise moment. To wait in this way is to be filled by the people and places around us instead of always wondering “what is next?”

I will admit to not always being patient. Too often I find myself distracted by looking for “what is next.” I want to learn to become better at simply “being” in the moment.

Dr. Root writes that the second form of waiting, simply being in the moment, is itself a form of action. He says that “…the only kind of seeking that can encounter God…is to wait.”

In Psalm 46:10a, the Psalmist writes: “Be still, and know that I am God!  I am exalted among the nations; I am exalted in the earth.”

What is it to “be still?” Perhaps the Psalmist means that we should give up our need to always be looking for whatever is next. Maybe it is a call to simply be. Be in the moment. Be in our relationships. Be comfortable waiting. 

Wait. And be in the presence of God.

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