By Cheryl Magness
The Dr. Seuss classic Oh, the Places You Will Go! includes a description of a place most of us can easily recognize. It’s called “the waiting place":
You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place . . .
for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break,
or a string of pearls,
or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls,
or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
NO! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places where the Boom Bands are playing.
There have been times when my life has gotten so complicated (too many Boom Bands all playing at once!) that I have craved “the waiting place.” But more often, I find the waiting place extremely challenging. It’s hard to wait, and it seems that I have had to do a lot of it the last ten years.
Yet I guess our whole lives are to some extent one big long wait. We wait for birthdays and holidays, for weddings and births, for graduations and job offers, for college acceptance letters and ACT scores, for college kids to come home, for paychecks and home sales, for diagnoses and cures.
Sometimes we end up waiting, unfulfilled, for a very long time, as the job goes to someone else, the home doesn't sell, the apology doesn't come, forgiveness is not offered, or we are told there is no cure.
I am not sure, though, how to be at peace with that sort of waiting. I can't seem to do it. I wait and worry and obsess and cry and ask, "How long, Lord? How long?"
If you are currently in the waiting place, take heart. As we enter the season of Advent, a time of waiting and preparation for the coming of the Christ Child, we are reminded that while this world is one big wait, the kingdom of God is not. We may seem to spend our earthly lives waiting for temporal answers, but we can rest in the truth that Christ has already come in the flesh to redeem us, that He continues to come to us daily to deliver His salvation, and that He will come again in glory to take us home. On that day there will no more waiting, since there will be no more past, present or future, only the ever-present reality of communion with the One by whose hand we were made.
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.”
Cheryl is Managing Editor of Reporter Online for The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. She blogs at A Round Unvarnish'd Tale and has also been published by The Federalist, American Thinker, OnFaith, and Touchstone magazine. Cheryl is married to a Lutheran cantor, and they have three children.