We spend a lot our time waiting for something or someone. To some extent, modernity has accelerated the pace of life–with phones, cars, planes, email, online shopping, &c.
Yet technology can also be used to slow things down. In the past, when you phoned a company, a real live person would come on the line. Nowadays, you have to navigate your way through endless checkpoints of menus within menus within menus for the privilege of being put on hold while a sales rep is speaking with other customers. The automated voice says, every 30 seconds, “We’re sorry for the delay…your call is very important to us!”
Yeah, right! The whole point of the exercise is to discourage customers from ever calling the company.
Likewise, freeways have gridlock, while air-travel is a serial form of waiting–all in the interests of saving time!
For some reason, there’s a venerable tradition in the medical profession according to which a scheduled appointment doesn’t mean a thing. First you wait a long time to even see the nurse. Then you wait some more to see the doctor.
There’s a TV show (Reaper) in which a DMV office is a hidden portal to hell–since many people find waiting in line at the DMV to be a minor case of hell on earth.
One reason we resent having to wait is the nagging awareness of our own mortality. Life is short. We don’t have endless amounts of time to waste. The clock is ticking.
Mind you, many unbelievers make an art of wasting time. They fritter their lives away on trivia.
Yet there are other cases in which waiting can enrich our lives. Having to wait at the airport for a loved one to arrive heightens the sense of anticipation, and sweetens the reunion.
Or the waiting room of the maternity ward. Waiting to see your baby for the very first time.
The flip side of waiting for someone is knowing that someone is waiting for you. That’s what makes a house a home. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to return. Someone who looks forward to your return. An empty house is not a home.
Back in the stone age of snail mail, some soldiers would write home everyday. Everyday they’d write their sweetheart a love letter, and everyday she’d write them back. Waiting for that letter to arrive in the mail was the high point of the day.
There’s a sense in which Christians, especially older Christians, are waiting to die. Not because they have too little to live for, but because they have too much too live for. Far too much for a fallen world.
They’ve done their tour of duty. And they are waiting for their discharge papers. Eagerly waiting for their eternal home. It is well worth the wait. And it’s all the better for the wait.