Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why are we waiting?

"It comes like a gentle dew" (Isaiah 45:8). Grace comes when you stop being preoccupied and stop thinking that by your own meddling, managing and manufacturing you can create it.

We're trained to be managers, to organize life, to make things happen. That's what's built our culture, and it's not all bad. But if you transfer that to the spiritual life, it's pure heresy. It doesn't work. You can't manage and manoeuvre and manipulate spiritual energy. It's a matter of letting go. It's a matter of getting the self out of the way, and becoming smaller, as John the Baptist said. It's a matter of the great kenosis, as Paul talks about in Philippians 2:6-11, the emptying of the self so that there's room for another.

It's very hard for us not to fix and manage life and to wait upon it, "like a gentle dew."

I think this is, for me, the hardest lesson. When I read Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path", I always want a pocket GPS receiver, or at least a folding map, rather what's promised in the psalm, which would have been the little, glimmering patch of light shed by an oil lamp such as the Hebrews used, barely enough to show the next step on the path.

Our waiting is our poverty; our willingness to wait is our acceptance of our own emptiness, our almost complete lack of the riches of foreknowledge. God alone truly knows what is to come (Romans 8:29; 11:2). We exist on the uncertain shoreline of the future - we are creatures of the tidemark, between the solid land of what has been, and the unthinkable currents of time itself. 

God, grant me the grace to wait for grace itself - take from me my constant fretting, and teach me how to simply let you be God. Please.


  1. Every one in awhile I am struck by how truly counter-cultural this is. What a great read for me this morning as I settle into the wait for God's post-seminary invitation, surrounded by the clamor of voices of family and friends asking, "What's next?"

  2. Thanks, Robin. You're so right about its being counter-cultural. Sometimes I don't think I personally realise how true that is!