Half term during exam season brings a welcome break for the students from the exam hall. It may not be a time free of work, with much necessary revision still to be done, but it does allow a respite from the intense exam environment. As much as this can be positive, the temptation to kick back and relax can be very strong with the knowledge that the wait until the next exam is a relatively long one.
Waiting is also an essential part of the Easter story. The Israelites had waited thousands of years for a Saviour. There was a three day wait after Jesus’ death before His resurrection. The disciples must have spent a lot of time waiting for Jesus to appear again after His resurrection, wondering who He would appear to next, where would it happen. Perhaps they tried to engineer situations where He would be more likely to make an appearance.
Going fishing seemed to pique Jesus’ interest so maybe that is why they choose to dust the nets off. Maybe they were kicking back and relaxing doing something that they knew how to do as a procrastination technique, which must have seemed more attractive than being locked in a room in a city. It is possible they had given up hope Jesus would come back again and regressed back to their previous way of life, losing their purpose in their waiting.
Our waiting can be like this too. Everyone is waiting for something in their lives, whether that is the next exam, a new baby to be born, the end of a set of loan repayments or for the football season to restart. It is what we spend most of our life doing as inevitably what we wait for is much shorter in time than the waiting itself and this makes our ability to wait fundamental to our well being.
Are we able to wait patiently for the news to come or do we become nervous wrecks, frantically checking our emails every five minutes? Can we remain focused on our day to day lives even if our future goal is distracting us and taking up the majority of our waking thoughts? Are we productively waiting or are we just trying to kill the time so we can begin our next job? It is possible that today’s society of instant gratification has meant we need to re-learn the art of waiting.
To wait well is usually linked to peace of mind. Techniques such as meditation and contemplative prayer have become popular again as people desire to learn how to live with the silence that waiting inevitably brings. There is a wonderful Taize chant that goes; “Wait for the Lord, whose day is near. Wait for the Lord; be strong, take heart”. It is a powerful prayer that can be repeated as a way of calming the anxiety that waiting brings. It also contains a deeper truth.
After Jesus’ ascension, He tells the disciples to go back to Jerusalem to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is exactly the kind of waiting they were trying to avoid, but they obey because this time it is different. They are waiting with a purpose, waiting for a gift, but most importantly they are waiting in hope as this gift is promised by the One whose word is true, the One from whom all goodness flows. Waiting in hope makes the waiting so much easier.
We invariably wait in fear for what is to come and this tears us apart. There is no peace to be had wondering which awful one out of the many awful outcomes you can imagine will occur. It is so easy to forget we have a heavenly Father who loves us and gives good gifts. Jesus says take a look at the way He looks after the birds and flowers and understand we are so much more important to Him. Every little detail of our lives matters to Him and He is interested in all of it.
Therefore, whatever you are waiting for, whether it is exam results, inspiration or new opportunities, wait with hope, for His day is near.