What Does Waiting Look Like?

You want to know something funny? You think of the strangest things when you have time to sit and simply think. I happened to be in a unique place recently when the thought of waiting came up. As I began to think about it, I began to think about language and how we often forget or don’t consider them fully when we speak the words that we speak. As I was thinking about one particular word (waiting), it dawned on me. Some people have a wrong view of that word. 

Image Credit: Omar Franco

Have you ever seen someone sitting around doing virtually nothing, you walk up to them and ask them what they are doing and their reply is “Nothing, just waiting”? Then you think to yourself, “Wait! What?” Waiting is a verb. Verbs are action words. That means you’re doing something, right? Think about it. If you go into a doctor’s office for an appointment, a mechanic’s shop for a repair job, or even a restaurant that requires a reservation, you’ll often see a place set aside for waiting. However, waiting is an active process.  

Although, in some regards, it appears that you are doing nothing. The reality when it comes to waiting is that you are actually anticipating something. Your waiting is the action of preparing for what is about to happen or for what you’re expecting. 

Think about it in this way. Recall your last visit to a restaurant. When you go to the restaurant, you are seated by a waiter or waitress. The wait staff doesn’t simply sit or stand around while you wait for service. They’re in an active mode of making preparations. They are anticipating your needs. If your beverage cup running low? Has the cook set your food up to go out to you? Is the area around you clean and inviting? What about the lighting? Are you ready for dessert? The wait staff is constantly moving and anticipating a need or want. 

Image Credit: Tom Pickering

So, when you say that you’re waiting on God for something, is your waiting one of an active posture? Are you doing something in anticipation of what you say you’re waiting for? When Jesus communicated to his followers of what the Kingdom is like, he told a story about ten virgins who were to wait for the bride groom to come. Five of the virgins only took their lamps, while the other five took not only their lamps, but additional oil. 

It was the act of preparing the additional oil for the lamps that separated the five wise virgins from the foolish virgins, because none of them knew how long it would be before the bride groom would come. Yet, in carrying extra oil, the wise virgins showed wisdom in being prepared for a duration of time and anticipating not only their own need, but that of the time they might have to wait. 

If we say that we are waiting, we must be active in our waiting by anticipating needs, actively be preparing for needs and wants. Our waiting must be evidence of our wisdom to have an expectancy for what we are hoping for. The next time someone asks you what you’re doing, remember that when you say to them that you’re waiting, that your waiting is active and not passive.

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