“Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.” – Proverbs 20:22
A sign in a train station reads “Waiting Room”, but beneath it a warning is posted, “No Loitering”. Seems like a comical contradiction, doesn’t it? Hardly, for waiting implies something is about to happen (i.e. the arrival of the train or waiting your turn in line). Loitering, on the other hand, implies idleness and lack of purpose, hanging out and getting in the way. Most would agree that loitering is not productive. Not so with waiting, which is a natural part of the process of life and work. Who, for example, would ever suggest expecting parents of loitering? No, waiting is part of the process, yet even in the waiting there is no time for idleness, as life and work continues.
As many people experience during their careers, I once went through a period of working for a not-so-good boss. But most of my colleagues and I – his direct reports – believed our circumstances would eventually improve if we would wait him out. It took a few years, but one day it was announced we had a new boss, resulting in our abilities to lead being set free and our careers taking off, just as we had always anticipated they would.
That great philosopher, Dr. Seuss refers to such experiences as “The Waiting Place.” As his poem says, “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. . .” But then one day, just like my own career, the waiting pays off. “NO! That’s not for you! Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. . . .[Then] Oh, the places you’ll go!”
Waiting is like what St. John of the Cross once described as “the dark night of the soul.” Yet, this “dark night” is neither punishing nor afflicting; rather it is a time that sets us free to anticipate, dream about, and prepare for what is to come. Simply put, it is The Waiting Place as Dr. Seuss calls it, a place to get ready for when the perfect job opportunity comes along, or the right person enters our lives; for the proper treatment of a disease, the birth of a child, or an answer to prayer. Then, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” For if we . . . “Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.” He always does.