We are waiting! Waiting to hear whether we have a visa to stay and be employed in the Netherlands. It’s completely pivotal for us, pretty much everything else we want to do going forward is dependent on the visa. So, we wait.
I’m not a huge fan of waiting. Most of the waiting we do is fairly trivial and just a bit frustrating. Like sitting in the queue behind the driver who just won’t edge out and grab the moment to get in the traffic (in London you have about a nano-second to do that before someone beeps you).
But some waiting is serious and can be very hard. Like when you are waiting to hear if you’ve got that job your desperately need, or for the phone call coming from the doctors about your hospital tests. This kind of “waiting” is laced with anxiety. The ’what if’s’ and ‘what will we do’ connected to the wrong kind of news are never that far away from your mind. And when you are in it, it’s hard, It’s stormy and at times scary. That kind of waiting is a lot easier to talk about than experience, and it brings into sharp focus the reality that we often live in denial of. Namely, that we are far less in control of the trajectory and circumstances of our lives than we realise and want to acknowledge.
But we all have to wait like this at times. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that God very intentionally takes us through these times in order to do something in us. And to some degree the last 2 years of us our lives has involved a lot of challenging waiting, and the more I walk through it, the more I realise that there are options in terms of what we do and how we respond.
The first option is the one where you simply allow your mind to go wherever it wants to, unchecked and unchallenged. When you go this route, you discover you are extremely good at meditating, it’s just that you are meditating on a bunch of unpleasant future outcomes, all of which have the result of robbing you of any joy today. It’s very easy to do, most of us (me included) are really gifted at it.
The other option is more of a choice. Something you have to do deliberately. Something I believe you can learn, and that I think (I hope) I am learning. This kind of waiting is more healthy and certainly more hopeful. It’s not the denial of possible bad outcomes, it’s waiting consciously aware that God is very fond of me, that he is here and whatever comes my way he can use and redeem. I know it sounds so obvious, but its so easy not to do.
When you wait like this you have to regularly make the conscious choice to place your life back into God’s hands and say, “today I choose to remember that I am yours, and that whilst I am not in control, you are. And that you are really very good at being in control of everything.” You have to speak truth to your own soul, because if you don’t, you almost inevitably start believing something else.
Dallas Willard once said that for the Christian the universe is a perfectly safe place for you to be. I often think about those words, particularly when I don’t feel safe. I think about how Jairus coped waiting, whilst his own daughter was dying but Jesus was healing a woman who just reached out and grabbed him. I think about how Paul speaks of learning the secret to being content in any and every circumstance (surely some of the most challenging words in the New Testament), and how I want to get there. And I think about the promise in Philippians 4[sv1] , that through prayer, we can know a peace that we don’t understand guarding our hearts and minds.
For all of you who are waiting right now, and it’s a bit tough, hold on. Don’t give up, don’t let go, and keep reminding yourself, he is good, he is able, he is true, and he is very fond of you.
Philippians 4 v 6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.