Wistful: full of melancholy yearning; longing pensively; wishful. Emotions from waiting range from agony, distress, miserable, disquieting, cheerless, uneasiness, to excitedly, anticipatory or wait worthy. Take a few minutes to recount your stored memories regarding exceedingly long periods of waiting.
No one likes to wait. In fact, most people despise waiting for almost anything: for family, waiting to be found when lost, to be picked up on group trips by the driver who was very late, or standing in long lines. When planning to eat at our favorite restaurant and customers were forming a line outdoors, Jim would say, “I’m not waiting” and drive to another. He was consistent, unwilling even to wait at a crowded DQ for an ice-cream treat. However, his waiting attitude completely changed when at dawn in a small fishing boat on calm Amistad Lake at his favorite slough with anchor put down, prepared to wait patiently for hours—rain, shine, heat or chill in anticipation of catching fish to bait hooks for big ones. When are you willing to wait patiently? Is there any benefit in nurturing the discipline of waiting?
Delay Waiting: When Jim and I were completely stalled all night because of deep snow-covered roads, many truckers, other travelers and Jim got out and chatted with each other. I was writing a book, so I enjoyed focused privacy time minus curves. I hardly remember anything about that 14-hour total stop except how it benefitted my writing. That wait was foremost in Jim’s mind for whenever we traveled that road, he always pointed out the exact spot where we were parked. If you travel, you know the drill.
Patient Waiting: Most of us will wait patiently for something we really want to ride, eat, see or do. But, unplanned events like accidents or emergency trips to the ER involving grueling hours of waiting that are forced upon us accompanied with endurance of physical and/or mental pain are quite different.
Excited Waiting: Years ago, when three of our excited grandchildren, their parents and Jim and me, having to wait a long time for the train from the motel to Disney World Park is categorized in my mind as a special memory. No one complained. Then, throughout the day lined up in cattle-guard long lines, became the norm. Again, without complaint. Waiting patiently for something exciting is wait-worthy.
Beneficial Waiting; In traveling, car troubles more than once changed our plans. Jim said it would take a long time to replace an axel. He said it wasn’t car trouble unless it cost us a night. Otherwise, just car nuisance. I had an appointment in Nashville with Johnnie, an editor friend who was also one of Jim’s college classmates. A trucker let me use his phone to alert Johnnie. Jim, always composed even with car trouble, got lawn chairs out of the camper for Mom, 16-year-old daughter, Julia Beth and me placing them under a tree on the side of the highway, a very pleasant and safe place for us to visit. Thirteen-year-old Roger assisted Jim. When Johnnie arrived, he thoughtfully brought hamburgers and milkshakes.
Jim and Roger rode in the tow truck and Johnnie took us girls to their home. Phyllis, his wife, had just returned from a meeting herself, an unpacked suit case in the hallway. After breakfast the next morning, Phyllis drove the five of us to the repair shop and sat with us for several hours for the axle replacement.
As they bade us goodbye, Johnnie put $100 in Jim’s hand saying, “Thank you for coming and giving us the opportunity to help you.” We have reminisced about our ‘axle-dent’ many times. That particular over-night waiting wasn’t dreadful at all, just a different venue for bonding with good friends. Schedules can be changed. Extended waiting has taught us to look beyond any delay for some positive benefit.
Disconcerting Waiting: Memories involving delayed/canceled flights, trains, trips for many reasons are common. Jim’s and my last airport experience occurred a year before we knew this would be his last. Our early morning flight was delayed four times and then entirely cancelled. Jim stayed with our luggage while I stood in a long line of apprehensive passengers. Right before my turn, a lady barged in front of me insisting that she was next. A man standing behind me scolded the lady saying “Get in line like the rest of us. You are being rude to this senior citizen”. White hair is a dead giveaway. The attendant glanced at me apologetically telling her that it was my turn. But I gestured indicating it was okay.
After our flight home had been scheduled, he said, “I am awarding you and your husband $100 each for another flight just because you’ve been so patient. I am permitted to do this. The reward is good for a year”. Admittedly, spending 12 hours in an airport was inconvenient, but we had cell phones to alert family, had plenty to read, walked and visited with each other. We made the best of painful waiting situation which qualifies as a pleasant memory-maker.
Anxious Waiting. Not long after that trip, we were caught off guard and experienced six weeks of pensive waiting in the hospital after Jim’s emergency trip to the ER and a brain scan that revealed tumors. The neurologists determined he would need a biopsy. I stayed with him 12 wonderful hours a day. We read scripture, get well cards, prayed, and enjoyed being together. We called it our hospital vacation. We enjoyed the special treat of seeing 10-month-old Great-granddaughter, Clara, whose mom brought her in almost every day. When I’d asked Jim if I could get him anything, his ‘always’ answer was “Clara”.
The Neurology team visited Jim’s room daily explaining what we could expect but they could only say “We have to wait several days to a week for the results of biopsy tests. It’s probably cancer, but we don’t know what kind”. When I asked “Is there a possibility that the cancer is benign”, their eyes moved to their shoes—my answer. Waiting for the results gave us time to wrap our minds around what we didn’t know for sure—neutralizing the shock affect A Neurologist made a special trip to tell us “The placement of the brain tumors indicates fast growing Glioblastoma. That was horrible news but observing how much these specialists cared about Jim and me will be etched in my mind forever. Being with Jim all day was one of the most special blessings that I ever have had. We discussed everything; cried together knowing life was never going to be the same. But waiting, though painful, was good preparation for our saying goodbye. Patiently waiting conditioned our minds and hearts to accept what we couldn’t change.
Waiting on the Lord: I remember the first time I became vividly aware of scriptural waiting on the Lord being applied to our physical lives. As our last year at Moody Bible Institute began, Jim asked me to marry him. After I wrote to Mom that Jim and I had planned to get married in June, her response surprised me. She didn’t say wonderful or congratulations but a wrote a short letter advising: Wait for the Lord; and again, I say wait. Ps. 27:14 which was the only time Mom ever advised me about decisions or relationships and the first time she ever included a verse of scripture. I didn’t have to think it over. I had peace about marrying Jim. I was so excited.
Later, after we had been married a year and Jim was a student at Baylor, we visited her in Ohio. I have no idea what we had been discussing that inspired her to say, “Ruthie, you’re always welcome to come home, as long as you bring Jim,” which I took to mean that she really liked Jim and wanted me to take good care of our marriage. I even wondered if she liked him more than she liked me. I didn’t ask questions.
Scriptures record how often Jesus waited. He spent hours communing with his Father and waiting for directions. Many verses in the Old Testament and New Testament encourage patient consistent waiting on the Lord with confident hope in the promises of the Father’s love and protection as the focus. Worthwhile waiting, indeed.
Though you have not seen him, you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious Joy. I Pet. 1:8 NIV)