Worship While We Wait

Jan 18 / Kyle Norman
It seems like much of our lives is taken up with waiting. Whether we are waiting for the arrival of traveling loved ones, the realization of something promised, or the long-anticipated end of the pandemic, waiting has become a major pass-time in our lives.

Is anyone else tired of waiting?

We often define waiting through negation and absence. Waiting occurs because the that which we long for has yet to happen. When we define waiting through negation, we naturally view it as something negative. Waiting is to be avoided. After all, no one wakes up in the morning and thinks to themselves “I think I will enjoy some waiting today!” Quite the opposite. We wake up looking for the end of our waiting. Thus, we approach our times of waiting with dislike and impatience. The more waiting we must endure, the more annoying we find it, and the more irritable we can be. “I’ve just been waiting for this for so long”, we say with exhaustion.

As Christians, the question we can ask ourselves is: is there a different way to wait? The Bible has a lot to say about waiting. Not only are there specific instructions to wait, such as “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14), but there are also instructions about how we may go about waiting. Rather than a time impatience and annoyance, the Bible depicts waiting as a spiritual exercise, one rich with divine activity. Waiting can usher us more deeply into the flow and work of the Spirit in our lives.

A passage from 2nd Peter is a prime example of this. The Christians of the day had begun to grow impatient at the delay of Christ’s return. They had begun to lose the initial fire of their faith and had begun to wonder if Christ would ever return. This was coupled with the presence of false teachers who were preaching Jesus was not returning. Thus, their advice to the Christians of the day was to stop waiting and simply move on with their lives.

In making his response, Peter pointing to the fact that, in waiting, we are invited to experience the work of God in our lives. Waiting is not defined by the absence of Christ, but the deep and intimate presence of Christ’s work. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to parish but everyone to come to repentance”, Peter writes (3:9). Instead of being defined by inactivity, times of waiting are spaces of deep activity wherein Jesus calls us to himself.

So, what does this mean for how we approach times of waiting in our lives?

Again, Peter is helpful, as he asks, then answers, this very question. He writes, “So, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.” (2nd Peter3:11). Peter uses the Greek word eusebo when speaking of “godliness”. The word is drawn from two words: eu – meaning “well”, and sebo – meaning “worship.” We respond to times of waiting through humble worship. We worship while we wait.

Waiting does not mean that we sit idly by, twiddling our thumbs until something happens. As the Lord is active, so we must be as well. The Lord acts, we respond. Waiting is never defined by absence or negation. Just as it is an error to view waiting as an absence of God’s activity in this world, equally, we are in error if we see the time of waiting as a time of inactivity on our end. Peter’s instructions remind us that we ought to view our times of waiting as opportunities to respond to Christ’s calling through intimate and personal worship. A “season of waiting” is but another way of saying “a season of worship.”

How might you live worshipfully as you go about your time of waiting?

Peter’s words are helpful because they remind us that God surrounds us each moment of our lives. Sure, while certain time in our lives may be filled with waiting, the Holy Spirit is still present and active. Thus, the space of waiting is a chance to rely more heavily on Christ’s strength and grace. When we give ourselves to this bold realization, our times of waiting become filled with expressions of praise and delight. And ultimately, as we worship, we may just find that the one for whom we wait is actually closer than we would have dreamed.

Kyle Norman

Reverend Dr. Kyle Norman is the Rector of the Anglican Parish of Holy Cross in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has a doctorate in Spiritual Formation and is often asked to write or speak on the nature of Christian community, and the role of Spiritual disciplines in Christian life. His particular interest is how spiritual formation is rooted in our understanding of baptism. His personal blog can be found at www.revkylenoman.ca