Waiting for the Lord with grace and hope

Published 5:04 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Alan Neale

In my driving around Washington, I am presently finding endless wonderful opportunities to practice the spiritual (and, for me, none too easy) art of waiting. And when I talk about waiting, it is not the waiting with fingers strumming on the driving wheel and feet tapping on the accelerator; when I talk about waiting, it is the divinely strengthening gift of waiting with patience and serenity.

Road construction, doubtless necessary and improving, seems to erupt in many places. And my home is east of Douglas Crossing so several times daily I enjoy the various traffic patterns as a rotary is being constructed.

Waiting does not come easily for most of us. I remember vividly waiting for a London omnibus with my dad in central London. To a young London cockney schoolboy, the wait seemed endless. When, eventually, the ‘bus came, it came accompanied by two others. Dad declared, “This is what they call the banana route.” And to my puzzled face, he added, “Banana route… because they always come in bunches!”

Waiting does not come easily for most of us. We have a plan for our time, and it is hard to surrender that plan to unknown, and uncaring, forces. We find uncertainty challenging and even a little tiring. And, in our most frantic moments, we even come near to thinking this is a cosmic plot to thwart us.

Waiting with grace and hope and dignity is a mark of a close walk with our Shepherd, Jesus. Waiting with serenity and assurance is a mark of a close walk with our Sovereign Lord God.

In the prophet Isaiah (40:31) we read well-known and familiar words, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall rise up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Always as I read or hear this powerful Scripture, I think the prophet is suggesting that to rise with wings is easy compared to the daily trudge of walking… walking… and not fainting.

Sometimes my impatience is due to a lack of awareness of the Lord’s nearness, a lack of faith in the Lord’s will, a lack of surrender to the Lord’s purpose.

After years of Christian discipleship, I often still find it a challenge to wait for the Lord; though I am discovering slowly that to “wait for” the Lord with trust and patience is often the means “to wait upon the Lord with praise and gratitude.”

Maybe I will more readily use moments of unexpected and unplanned moments, to be moments when I can reflect upon a Scripture, or say a word of prayer for a friend?

Whenever I find myself waiting for a train or a ‘bus, I will often ask someone near if I am in the right place. Waiting alone is a challenging thing; waiting in community is easier. I think that is one of the reasons why I want to be in community regularly with other Christians; the community gives me strength, encouragement.

Of Washington’s many gifts, is its abundance of churches – here are communities that gather to wait for, to wait upon the Lord and then return to daily life strengthened and encouraged.
Psalm 62:5 (probably originally said and sung in community) “My soul, wait patiently for God, for my hope is in him.”

Alan Neale is the Rector of Zion Episcopal Church in Washington.