What to do while waiting
TWO lanes deep, dozens of vehicles stood motionless in a line that stretched as far as the eye could see during the worst snowstorm of the season. Barriers on both sides of the road prevented escape to another route. The only course of action seemed to be -- wait. The paradox of idle waiting in an extremely busy world is common. It can range all the way from mere inconvenience to the suffering experienced while waiting to regain health, or the anxiety of waiting for a job or a home, or even the anguish of waiting to hear word about individuals detained for political reasons in another part of the world. Is longsuffering compliance the best we can hope for? No. There is a higher sense of waiting that involves powerful prayerful action. The Psalmist touched upon it in his prayer ``Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.''1
Waiting on God -- serving Him -- is a course of action that can be undertaken through prayer, regardless of the nature of a delay. Our thinking cannot be put on hold if we choose not to allow it to be on hold. No one is helpless as long as he will heed the directions for prayer that Christ Jesus gave his followers. Jesus taught, ``When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.''2
The closet is not a physical place but a state of quiet spiritual thought that can be entered anytime, anyplace. Referring to Jesus' statement, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God's allness.''3
Prayer that establishes in thought the infinity of Spirit, God, tends to exclude the limitations of materiality. Vigorously purifying thought until we acknowledge only God enables us to deny and destroy through the power of Christ the paralyzing mental influences of fear and apathy, frustration and anger. Clearly, such prayer does not shift us into mental neutral where we pass the time away merely thinking pleasant thoughts; rather it spiritually uplifts us, enabling us to reflect the Christly light that sheds calm and harmony on circumstances around us. Such prayer is so active it might better be described as what to do instead of waiting. Through this prayer the ever-active presence of God becomes nearer and more real to us, revealing the healing effect of His love in tangible ways.
That traffic tie-up needed some tangible help. While I waited to move through the snowy day I prayed. In that quiet sanctuary I acknowledged God's infinite nature as good. I recognized that safety is really a spiritual quality, dependent on God, not circumstances. I gladly remembered that God gave His man dominion. To me this meant that ungodlike qualities of impatience, anxiety, and inactivity did not have dominion over me or anyone else in that long line. A cold sense of boredom began to give way to lively interest in the ideas that were coming to me through prayer. Impatience and irritation began to yield to compassion for fellow motorists. Peace began to replace worry and pressure. That sanctuary of prayer was beginning to feel comfortable and warm, like home.
When I took another, more careful look at the scene around me, I realized that a marked change had taken place. Although the line of traffic had not disappeared and the snow had not diminished, there was now evidence of cooperation among drivers where there had been anger and impatience. A young man who before had used some foul language was now courteously talking with a neighboring motorist. An atmosphere of calm prevailed. When snowplows came, they found a spirit of orderliness and good cheer instead of chaos. Traffic moved quickly forward.
Progress does not really depend on someone or something beyond our control, although it may seem so at times. Ultimately it depends on our willingness to turn meekly to God in prayer. When our sense of waiting refuses defenseless consent to the vacuum of delay and turns to active desire to serve God through prayer, we'll catch a glimpse of the powerful thrust forward that the prophet saw when he declared, ``They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.''5
1Psalms 25:5. 2Matthew 6:6. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 15. 4Isaiah 40:31. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Pray without ceasing. I Thessalonians 5:17