Waiting ………Waiting ……….Waiting!
Christmas is a global festival; it’s a season of celebration, not only for Christians but also for everyone. Therefore wherever we go – to the store, the post office, the bank, the mall etc. everywhere we find ourselves waiting.
In a world where instant coffee is the demand and instant communication across countries and continents the fashion, where efficiency is a top value and life is fast, waiting becomes difficult and even intolerable. How frustrating it is to be caught up in a traffic jam or to find trains running hours late. On the contrary, one often learns the art of waiting in a rural area: if the bus does not come on time, the people wait; when the monsoon is delayed, they wait; if the government official is not in his office, they wait; when justice is deferred, they wait.
It is hard to do nothing but wait. When one waits, one loses control. We have only to think how miserable we feel when someone, perhaps a friend, doesn’t turn up at the appointed time: we sense emptiness, an inability to do anything else, an anxiety about what could have happened. The situation takes over and makes us feel helpless. Life is constantly putting us in such predicaments; we try to escape or avoid them, missing, perhaps, what could be positive and beneficial to our spirit.
The Bible offers us some fine examples of waiting: Abraham waits long for the birth of Isaac, the son of promise. Moses and the people wander in the desert for forty years; he sees the Promised Land but does not enter it. For centuries the Jewish people await the coming of the Messiah – a longing which gives them strength an hope in every adversity. It seems that Jesus too waited for about thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth before beginning his rather short ministry of preaching and healing, which soon led him to rejection and death. The Risen Christ gives an order to the apostles to “wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father promised”(Acts 1,4), the gift of the Holy Spirit. One may say that there is a spirituality of waiting which expresses an unshakable trust in God and His promises. The Jewish Christian mystic Simone well called it “the truth most necessary to our salvation, the key element in the Christian faith”.
Though prayer is a certain activity on our part, it has to go with a deep attitude of waiting for the God who comes. The cry of our heart, expressed or implied, is: “You are all important to me. Without you I can do nothing; I am powerless. Come and fill my emptiness, give meaning and direction to my life and make it fruitful in loving service. I can only wait expectantly before you, believing in your ever loving concern for the works of your hand.” Such waiting and such prayer change our personality: we become more receptive, more respectful to persons and the whole of creation, more attentive to their needs and cries.
Finally I experience that prayer is nothing but waiting. Waiting places the emphasis on the other person who is coming. I can only wait for this person. To wait is to express my powerlessness, my insufficiency, and that is my attitude towards God. I cannot force God to come. All I can do is wait and be present. To pray means to lose my grip. I am no longer in control when I pray. God is in control. He will come when He things it is time to come. Prayer is the courage to listen, to give up my self-determination. In simply waiting for God I admit that God is important to my life. I cannot be without Him.