I was five minutes early and already nervous.
A friend and I were meeting up so we could drive together to an event.
The plan was simple. Meet in the parking lot at 5:00.
At 4:55, I started worrying.
Did we say 5:00 or 5:30? Did I have the time right? What if we had miscommunicated? What if I told her the wrong day? The wrong place? The wrong time?
This could be a disaster.
By 4:57, I pulled out my phone to double-check our messages.
Okay, I’m safe. This was the right day and time and place.
But what if she couldn’t see my car where I was parked? What if she pulls in the other side of the parking lot and misses me completely?
I crane my neck around, glancing from side to side. Then I actually drive through the parking lot to make sure she wasn’t already there waiting for me and I’m just being ridiculous.
It’s 4:59 now, and yes, I am absolutely being ridiculous, but it’s taken on a humongous snowball life of its own and I feel powerless to stop it.
I am worrying about being late and about traffic and maybe we should have said we should meet earlier.
I am worrying about miscommunication and how I should have called her that day to verify the details one last time.
Then I start worrying about my friend. What if she is hurt and in a car accident somewhere and she can’t call to tell me because she’s in an ambulance on the way to the hospital?
And then, just as I’ve worked myself up into frantic worry….my friend pulls in.
She’s fine. I’m fine. We’re completely on time.
I really am ridiculous.
Every single day, I tell my two-year-old son to ‘be patient’ about 20 times. Maybe 50 times.
He wants juice. He wants snack. He wants Bob the Builder on the TV. He wants his shoes on. He wants his shoes off. He needs help with a toy. He wants me to read a book.
What do I say?
Okay, in just a moment. Be patient.
And, I act like he should just accept that. I act like it’s a perfectly reasonable request for a two-year-old to have patience.
But today, I’m recognizing that it’s hard.
I should teach him patience, of course. I still need to keep asking him to wait sometimes. This doesn’t mean I need to snap-to-it and answer his every whim and will immediately.
No, I teach him to ‘be patient,’ but I do it with some understanding that what I’m asking him to do takes oh such a long time to learn.
Some days he’ll get it just right.
And some days he’ll fall to pieces just like his crazy mom does when she’s waiting for a friend in a parking lot at 4:55 p.m. and they’re supposed to meet at 5:00.
There’s something more, too: All these years, I’ve recognized how waiting takes patience (and who likes learning about patience?) and it takes trust (and who finds trusting without controlling easy?).
But it also takes courage.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14 ESV).
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord! (Psalm 31:24 ESV).
I’ve missed it a million times. I’ve read those Psalms and sang them and written them in my journal over and over again, but today it hits me in a new way.
God says that in the waiting, I need to take heart.
I need to be courageous.
I need to be strong.
And, that’s exactly what I need to hear in seasons of waiting because when I’m waiting, I’m full of doubt and questions and worry.
I think maybe I heard God wrong. Maybe this is going to take forever and He’s never going to bring me through this situation. Maybe the deliverance won’t come after all. Maybe I’m in the wrong place. Maybe there was miscommunication. Maybe I missed God and He was already here and gone and now I’m outside of His will! Maybe God is done with me and now He’s just left me here in this place.
I’m being ridiculous, I know it.
Yet, it’s in the moments of waiting that I feel most abandoned and most afraid.
And it’s in the moments of waiting that God says exactly what I need to hear the most:
Don’t believe the lies. Don’t fret over the future. Don’t question the calling. Don’t doubt God’s ability or willingness to care for you. Don’t think you’re alone.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage.