“Waiting is not a very popular attitude. Waiting is not something that people think about with great sympathy. In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and wait!” For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. They want to get out of it by doing something.
Waiting is even more difficult because we are so fearful.” Henri Nouwen
Fearful people have a hard time waiting. When nothing around them is happening as they think it should, there is the temptation to take control of the situation and to act…it feels like doing anything is better than doing nothing at all.
Yet, we see in the figures of the Christmas story people who are waiting. Zechariah and Elizabeth are waiting. Mary and Joseph are waiting. Simeon and Anna are waiting. The whole scene opens with waiting people. And all these figures, in one way or another, hear the words, “Do not be afraid. I am about to do something.”
Again, in the words of Nouwen, “To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”
It is in the midst of our fears we are asked to wait for God to do what only he can do…which if far better than the smaller story we could have constructed for ourselves.