Patience is a virtue, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.
Patience is a virtue, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

SPIRITUAL MATTERS: A matter of altitude

DON’T you hate it? Waiting, that is.

Yes, I sometimes echo that spirit of exasperation: “Lord, give me patience. But please do it right now!”

COVID-19 has a lot to answer for. As well as the obvious, it’s unleashed another monster: Waiting! We’ve had a taste of that with two weeks in isolation after returning from South Africa. However, that was okay for us as it turned out. But for others, well, think of those in compulsory hotel quarantine – waiting – hemmed in by four walls with none of the creature comforts of home and few of the resources that lurk within the walls of our private habitation. It must have been awful!

Then there are those who are required to undergo a COVID test, and await the results. The responsible thing is to do nothing and go nowhere until a clearance is issued.

And don’t get me started on traffic jams. I hate city traffic, even though my job requires me to navigate the mayhem in a coach up to 14.5 metres in length and as wide as the average city lane! Then there are the traffic delays the COVID bug is responsible for should one wish to cross a state boundary.

But we can’t sheet the blame for every annoying period of waiting to that rascally bug. No. Lining up at a newsagent – $2 coin in hand – I wait to pay for a print copy of one of those almost-extinct newspapers. I’m in a hurry. My coffee is waiting. There’s only one person ahead of me in the queue – but she’s having her lottery tickets checked for an unlikely win. No. No win today. Oh, then I’ll have to buy some more. Now. Which ones to get. Hmmm! Five minutes later the choices have been made, the tickets grasped tightly with barely concealed anticipation – and here I go. I take a step forward. And stop. The move was premature. I step back again onto that red dot. The expectant lottery winner is fumbling in her bag for her purse. It’s an operation of mammoth proportions for even when the money changes hands – I’m ill-prepared for the delay involved in the closing pleasantries with the counter-person, and the inordinate time it takes to place change into said purse, gather up the bits and pieces on the counter, and move away so that the next person – me – can move forward to occupy the still-warm space. “Oh Lord give me …” And you know the rest!

When all’s said and done however, waiting is a part of life.

As a Christian, I should be extremely tolerant; more tolerant than I’m inclined to be at times! For after all, ‘vertical waiting’ is something I’m encouraged to do – and do often. And this kind of waiting – waiting for God to speak – can be quite exciting. It’s a dynamic exercise. It requires involvement, wakefulness, effort and sensitivity. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Nor is it the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means I have to be ready and alert to respond to Him – but not to jump the gun and move ahead of his will. So, at the end of the day, good things can flow from creative, vertical waiting. And that can really bless us!