I had an awesome day today.
It started at 7 this morning when I took my camp chair and mason jar of coffee (Thanks, Lynda) and went to sit outside of the DMV. Wonderful morning that it was, I spent an hour waiting in line with people who were equally enthused to be encountering the bureaucracy within. I expected the doors to open at 8, and was in the middle of folding up my chair when I heard someone read a sign that was posted: Wednesday hours, 9:00am to 5:00pm. So another hour I set down to wait.
Later in the day, I left work to head towards Pasadena to start my class for the quarter at Fuller. The class starts at 6, which means I have to leave before 4 to beat the traffic. Or so I thought.
I am spoiled to get to work so close to my office, there is only one intersection that I ever have to wait more than one car to proceed. Taking the 57 North, however, placed me squarely in the thick of traffic congestion. On more than one occasion, I exclaimed (in my best Gob Bluth impression)"C'mon!". Traffic and I are not friendly co-habitants.
Now that I am arrived safely on campus and settled comfortably in the library, I realize how mundane and routine those occurrences really were. A lot of my life seems like waiting though. I wait for Dayann to come home from work, I wait for my clients to show up for appointments, I wait for my tv shows to be on, I wait for payday. I have times when I’m anxiously waiting, like in a hospital or for a phone call.
For as much waiting as we do in life, there is also the time we spend waiting on God. As much as I hate traffic, I at least know I'm moving somewhere, with God, no such reminders.
Especially in prayer, I find myself stuck waiting because the things I talk to God about do not have easy answers. Someone with dissociative disorder, another with anxiety and obsessive compulsive behaviors, a couple in an adoption process, a man I respect looking for a kingdom cause for employment.
I was reading this morning from Luke 18:
1-3Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, "There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: 'My rights are being violated. Protect me!'
4-5"He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, 'I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won't quit badgering me, I'd better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I'm going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.'"
6-8Then the Master said, "Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won't step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won't he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?"
Being told to pray consistently and never quit sounds like pounding my head against a wall to try and make a window. In his interpretation however, Eugene Peterson expresses the everything that the judge in this parable is-- callous, capricious, inattentive, self-concerned, drunk on power yet impotent for justice-- God is not. Our prayers do not go up to an overcrowded inbox for God to respond to when he gets our number. God is not inconvenienced by our petition (as self-centered as it can be at times) but cares intrinsically for us to be in harmony with ourselves, others, our environment, and with Him.
God has shown that he is the one who initiates relationship and reconciliation before he have it in our mind. He creates and provides for the pleasure of humanity, he introduces himself to a particular tribe of people and reveals his will, he shows up in the neighborhood and lives as Jesus, his spirit shows up in the community that seeks his grace and truth. This is what is distinctive about the Christian faith: that God has uniquely shown up in Jesus and invites humanity into a relationship with him as he renews creation.
So this is our dilemma, we believe that God wants to relate, restore, redeem, but why won't he take care of the things in my life that are so broken? I don't care (so much) about being stuck in traffic, but people I love are really hurting and I could use God to show up a little.
Short answer: Waiting on God is not easy. If it were, we would not be in possession of the psalter which repeats the refrain, "how long will you forget me? How long will you hide from me?"
So I wait...