Waiting well (Part 1)

Staff_team_2015 Posted by Roger Cooke on Thu, 03 Dec 2015 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

In the 2002 film About a Boy (which sees Hugh Grant living off the royalties of his dad’s Christmas hit song) there’s a scene where Hugh (I forget his character’s name, but it’s essentially ‘Hugh’), is at a dinner party, enjoying some lively and flirtatious chat with Rachel Weisz (whose character is helpfully called ‘Rachel’). It’s all going splendidly well, until Rachel asks Hugh the question he most dreads…

“So, what do you do?”
“Well, I’m sort of taking a bit of time off at the moment.”
“Oh, that sounds good, yeah. Time off from what?”
“Well, to be absolutely honest, time off from..time off, in fact. The interesting thing about me is that I don’t actually do anything.”

During 2003 and 2004, I was the ‘Hugh’ in many conversations of a similar nature.

After a long, slow process, I’d been selected to serve as a Mission Partner with Interserve Ireland, pending a suitable placement. It took six months to identify a placement – in Bangladesh – and then a further 11 months passed with no success in securing the required visa, before the plug was finally pulled on the whole venture. While I was doing some supply teaching and piano playing during those two years, the overriding feeling was one of waiting.

“What is that you do, Roger?”
“I play the piano, catch up with friends, go walking in the Mournes…lots of stuff.”
“Yes, but what do you actually do?”
“I wait.”

It could seem like those two years were, in some ways, ‘wasted’. After all, I never reached the end of the process, I didn’t make it to Bangladesh to join the team that was waiting for me. But I still look at that time as hugely valuable. It reinforced the truth that I’m not defined by what I do or don’t do as a job or career, but rather by my status as a beloved son of a heavenly Father, a member of God’s family. But those two years also helped me understand something of the significance of waiting.

In our part of the world, waiting is something that we rarely do well. Everything in our culture is about the immediate and the instant. For the most part, we’ve lost the discipline of pausing, slowing things down and being still.

But waiting is good for the soul. Indeed, waiting is something that seems very important to God and to His relationship with us. He waits for us. He asks us to wait for Him. In Isaiah 30:18, we read…

And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.

Waiting is one of the main themes of Advent: this is a season of anticipation, both in terms of celebrating a past event and of embracing a future reality. We wait for the coming of Christmas Day, when we honour Emmanuel, God with us. We also wait, in hope, for Christ’s return and the new life to come, with him.

One of the most valuable contributions CMSI’s Global Partners can make to the Church in Ireland – and to the CMSI family here – is to help us learn to wait well. And this Advent, I want to become better at waiting well.

There’s more to come in this reflection…

..but, for now, you’ll have to wait…

Roger Cooke

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