As I’ve pondered Advent this year, I have been confronted with a convicting reality in my own life: I don’t like waiting.

I’ll go further than that; I will do almost anything to eliminate waiting. When I do have to wait, I become frustrated, fidgety, and irritable.

So, I rarely wait. Instead I choose to be distracted. Distracted by my phone, calling it productivity. If I have to wait, I’ll respond to emails, texts, phone calls, or read articles. Anything to occupy my time rather than simply waiting, which may require awkward eye contact with a stranger.

When I pause and look around, I realize in many ways the very culture in which I live hates to wait.

Almost everywhere I turn I find opportunities to avoid waiting: for a price. When I go to amusement parks, I can purchase the “Fast Track” ticket to avoid the long waits to get on the rides. Grubhub will deliver my fast food to my door so I’m not inconvenienced by waiting in line. Almost any widget or book to make my life better is available for next day shipping on Amazon Prime. And when I avoid the wait, I determine I’ve won!

This year I’ve wondered if the cost to avoid waiting is more than just a financial cost. I wonder if I’ve lost some spiritual sensitivity and vision.

In the place of waiting I feel compelled to produce or distract. But waiting helps me to remember that life does not revolve around me. Waiting means that I have to be patient with others around me, that I need to invite or at least recognize that waiting will be part of my day. Not everything will move or happen at the pace that best suits me.

When I avoid waiting, I subconsciously begin to believe that God should work on my time table, too.

But the words of the Psalmist echo in my mind: “As the deer pants for the streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Ps. 42) In the waiting, I am more sensitive to the activity of God around me. I see his hand at work and recognize places where heaven is breaking in. It is in waiting that my life adjusts to his activity and his work ignites my participation.

Advent this year is providing opportunity to find joy as I wait in line. It’s providing a renewed appreciation to linger in prayer and silence simply because Jesus is near. While difficult to be present with people around me as I feel the pressure to produce and achieve, this is where relationships bud and flourish. Far from having this figured out, I am thankful for the corrective voice of God which invites me to find joy as we wait upon his triumphal return.

Lord, may we embrace the waiting with joy. Bring to us your perspective and your persevering love for all of your creation. And in the waiting, may our eyes see your work, our ears hear your voice and our minds be transformed by your truth.

Bob Beaty
Bob Beaty is bishop of the Susquehanna Conference. He and his wife, Heather, live in Dillsburg, Pa., with their son and daughter.

Share this Story