Life presents us with moments when the question is, “how long.”
It’s on the lips of parents standing over a feverish child.
Someone in line for a job feels tension and wants to know the outcome. How long?
It can be as mundane as taxes or graduation or as intense as adoption or cancer. The question is still the same. How long?
We ask “how long” when we want the loop closed and the decision made. Our anxiety forms the syllables in our souls. Just relieve us of the tension.
When we are moving, we think little of time. But waiting for answers creates spiritual nail biting down to the quick.
In John, crowds who listened to Jesus grew impatient with parables and figures. They wanted a final resolution. Was Jesus the one or not? Yes or no. No more cat-and-mouse games. No more ambiguity. Jesus tell us the answer?
“So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (John 10:24, ESV)
I am amazed that they have not watched and drawn conclusions. But they do have their ends. They are looking for a time to arrest Jesus and want him to present a clear indictment.
I can feel their frustration. Times present themselves to me in which I want, no demand, resolution to a problem. I want it fixed, finished, and tied up in a bow. At least then I know.
Why doesn’t our answer come quickly? What does God have in mind?
Perhaps more than we think.
I may need to grow before I can face the answer. Waiting is a tonic for maturity that raises more questions than answers. Pondering life and its implications can sometimes make life clearer.
God’s purpose may take more than I can see. Abraham knew God had dropped the ball when he grew older and had no son. He tried to help, and God slapped his hand. God had greater purposes than Abraham understood.
I should have enough faith that I don’t rush God when I am in a rush.
Most important, God’s ways are not my ways. He has his timetable, and my demands for resolution are not that important. It is those times all must “live under” (the Greek word for perseverance) the ambiguities of life.
How long? Even though I might want to know, I might not need to know. It takes greater faith to wait for the answer than to get it. Life does not work according to our timetable of whims. God will determine, and I must accept.
Henri Nouwen told of a trapeze troupe called the Flying Roudellas.
The head of the group said that two are critical to the act. One is the flyer, and the other is the catcher. The flyer must let go, and the catcher must snag them in a perfectly choreographed sequence. As the flyer approaches, he lets go of the safety of the bar, arches his back, and extends his hands. And then he waits. And then the master said, “The flyer must never try to catch the catcher.”
Life presents the moments we let go of ourselves and let God do the catching.