You’d think I’d be comfortable with waiting by now…I did a lot of waiting in Rochester, I’ve blogged a lot about waiting and I even wrote some IME essays on waiting. And do you know what …. even after all this time I still believe waiting is flipping hard! i want to ‘do’!
Some people tell me that God wishes to teach me lessons on patience; and I think they are trying to be humorous. Waiting bores me. Waiting frustrates me. Waiting forcibly stops me. Waiting causes me to question my identity. Waiting causes others to question what I am doing. Just today a manager of a cafe said ‘you don’t do a lot do you!’
He’s right … all I do is wait. Well I watch as well. I guess I also listen. I have noticed patterns of behaviour in different groups. I know where to find certain people at certain times. But, once again I ask ‘what am I waiting for?’ This time, however, I think I know. I know what to look for. I know what to listen to. I have a better understanding of signs that I am hoping to discover.
Waiting can be naff, boring, monotonous …. but waiting is so important. I have learned the importance of not side stepping this phase of mission. Yes it is true that waiting forcibly stops me … but it forcibly stops me from thinking I have understood this community too early and jumping with both feet into what seems a good thing to do, only to realise a little down the line that it’s the most ridiculous idea ever. Waiting means I can really hear and observe and check out what I think this community is saying.
If mission is joining in with what God is doing, and that’s a definition I certainly adhere to, then this time of observation spiced with a gritty tad of discernment is a time that must not be skimped on.
I have been brought back again and again to the words of John taylor in the classic ‘Primal Vision‘:
‘The Christian has nothing to offer unless he offers to be present, really and totally present, really and totally in the present. The failure of so many professional Christians has been that they are not all there.’
What I am learning from these incredible words of wisdom is that many of us do not have the patience, time or ability to ‘wait’ and in our waiting to be ‘totally present’. The only way to be totally present is to have time, and to have time it is important to make time. Too often we are planning the next step, thinking about the next agenda item, planning our response at the next meeting, or making plans for the place before we have listened, or understood, or heard.
I am learning that the wait, the listen, the contemplate are all as important as the action. The action will and must come, but the desire to jump, to feel good, to transfer ideas from other paces, to get going before we are ready … that must be resisted.
At the end of this month I will have waited for 5 months. 5 months of watching and waiting in Gillingham High Street has given me some interesting thoughts and introduced me to some deeply thoughtful people. I sense the time or season of waiting and watching in my particular case is about to give way to a season in which I will need to act. More on that at another time, and if things come together of course.
I’m excited! I also know, that even though waiting can be monotonous, if things do start to happen I may well be longing for the days of waiting and reflection to return!
So … here’s to still waiting, and listening, and watching and trying to understand … before taking the next step.