Waiting. Today felt like the perfect day to write this blog. Today is the day in between Good Friday and Easter. It is the day of waiting. It is the day commemorating the day Jesus’ body lay in the tomb. It is the day when the disciples probably felt all hope was lost. They mourned the loss of Jesus, convinced that he was gone for good.
It is also the day of rest. Sabbath. Some have called this day the Great Sabbath. It was the day when Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of Jesus had to wait before they could tend to the body as they intended to on Sunday. I can only imagine how anxious they must have felt. My own mother has a terrible time of staying still…especially when mourning. When my grandmother passed away last year, my mother went full force into preparation mode for funeral arrangements, out of town family hosting, and then taking care of my grandmother’s belongings and affairs. It was her way of honoring and taking care of her mother one last time and also a way to deal with such a painful experience. I can imagine that the Great Sabbath was not restful for Mary, mother of Jesus. As many mothers would feel, I can see how she might have wanted to take care of him even if for one last time. She probably wanted make sure his body was prepared for burial properly. Except on Saturday she had to wait. She could not do anything about Friday and didn’t know what was about to happen on Sunday. But, as Tony Campolo quotes from his pastor at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.”
The gist of that message is that even though the hour looks bleak, we can have hope that Jesus is alive. Saturday is a day of waiting, but Sunday’s coming.
What does that mean for us singles and those that pray with unmet expectations? Sunday’s coming. My 20’s and 30’s were wrecked with forced Sabbaths. Sabbaths are difficult when all we want to do is DO. I’m a do-er. I’m the Martha versus Mary. I’m the one who needs to make things happen or I’ll implode.
I remember 3 days before I graduated seminary, my roommate found me on my computer on both Monster.com and Match.com trying to get a job and a husband before we graduated. More recently, in my need to “do” I’ve found myself on Eharmony, shopping on a mission, ready to add someone to my cart and pay for express delivery. This, mind you, is different from my more laid back friends who can take it as a way to date which is just a way to meet new people that could possibly lead to something else. My need to “do” causes me to find a husband the way I find grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free coconut tortilla wraps. But today I must wait.
Praying year after year and hanging on to hope that God will answer favorably can be incredibly difficult. One of the greatest reasons, I think, is because many of us no longer know what it means to wait. Here in Silicon Valley, I can order office supplies from Google Express to be delivered that day, subscribe to a meal service where they bring me food I can prepare in 10 minutes (and still feel like it’s homemade because well, technically…), and stream videos instantly. Not only do I not have to wait, I don’t even have to move! This is the culture many of us live in.
There are women in Africa who walk long distances and then stand in line and wait to draw water for their homes each day. There are people who fish and hunt, not just for sport but because that’s how they sustain their families. They wait for water and food because that’s what they need to do. Waiting brings life.
And so it is on the Great Sabbath. Where Friday brought death, waiting for Sunday can bring life. It’s painful at times and slow and anxiety producing yes, but it’s also a discipline in hope and patience. While we may want to “getter dun” and act on the things we want and desire, we need to also learn to wait. I know some of you may be thinking, “Okay, I have enough character built by this point.” Or “Haven’t I waited faithfully long enough?” But those are not questions we get to answer and so we wait.
What I have found most helpful in this waiting period is working on my peace and trust in the Lord. I know it sounds super cliche Christian, but that’s all I’ve got. I’m not talking compartmentalized peace in Jesus, where you can have full trust in him in every aspect of your life…except singleness. Or where we lie to ourselves and say “I trust the Lord” and yet remain anxious and impatient. I mean deep, raw trust and commitment to the Lord where you can sacrifice the very desire you want most. Can you give up what may have become an idol?
One night I was driving home on the freeway and I was struck by the decision of choosing my desire for a husband and Jesus. I was in tears as I realized what God was asking of me. If I died that night, would I end up in heaven bitter that I didn’t get what I wanted most out of life? The question I heard in the car by myself was “Am I really enough?” That night I prayed, “I choose you God.” And for the years following I have had to remind myself and pray that prayer over and over again. I choose you God.
Waiting is terrible when we don’t have a peace about what will happen next. I know the idea of giving up this desire may seem insane and scary. You may be thinking, “If I give up this desire then God may take me up on that.” I’m not saying give up on your desires altogether, because clearly I haven’t. But there is something about checking in with our hearts about the order of importance our desires have in our lives. Is God’s grace truly sufficient for you?
When I was able to grasp His love for me wholly (or at least as much as I can), I was able to take a deep breath and step back. I can wait today because I know Sunday is coming.