Waiting: A spiritual discipline

By Mickey McCandless, Director of Spiritual Care & Church Connections

Mickey-McCandless-2013webDid you know the reference to waiting is found in 116 instances within the Bible? Psalm 27:14, Micah 7:7 and Acts 1:3-4 are some of my favorite scriptural references to waiting. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines wait as “to stay in place until an expected event happens, until someone arrives, until it is your turn to do something…to not do something until something else happens; to remain in a state in which you expect or hope that something will happen soon.”

Too often we understand waiting to mean we are wasting time or not taking charge of a situation. Biblically, waiting is an active verb indicating that “to wait” is to be aware through all of the senses of what is occurring around you and discerning the right time to do the next thing. To wait is to be open to experiencing the holy moments around you: to experience feelings emanating from another person; to hear words in a broader context; or to experience God’s presence through others. During hurrying or busyness it is easy to miss these opportunities.

The virtue of waiting reminds me of Lola. Lola was my good friend from my first appointment at Banquete. She was raised on a farm, had served as an inner city schoolteacher at a disadvantaged school and she was very active in church with a passion for reaching new people in fresh ways. Lola had never smoked, but at age 70 she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She fought against it for five years.

During her five-year battle, I moved to a church in Corpus Christi. One day, I received a phone call that Lola was in a hospital near me so I went for a visit. Her room was dark and comfortable. She was aware of my presence, but not verbally communicative. I spoke to her briefly. I waited for an hour, simply listening to her breathing, experiencing her spirit and becoming aware of the gift that was Lola. I became aware of God’s Spirit and reflected on my feelings about life as it begins and ends. I touched Lola and spoke a word of love and grace before I left. She died the next day. I had the privilege of preaching at her funeral.

Waiting is a spiritual discipline because it allows each of us to more fully experience who we are, the world around us and the presence of God. Practice waiting and may you be filled with God’s Spirit as you do.