I am an impatient person and not a fan of waiting, no matter what the context. I have learned to combat this impatience with everyday waiting through multitasking. Stuck in traffic?…catch up on the latest podcast. Stuck in line?…catch up on email. (Honestly, some days I wonder what I ever did before I had an iPhone.) But what do I do when the
waiting goes way beyond the everyday nuances of traffic and long lines? My iPhone is no
match for the inevitable seasons in life when I find myself waiting in the wilderness. Multitasking can’t combat the frustration of not knowing when difficulties will ever end. Instead, I think the constant shifting of focus from one distraction to the next is often what prolongs these periods of wilderness waiting.
I have been reading a book by Christine Caine called Unashamed (great book, by the way) and in it she talks about “the beauty of the wilderness.” She compares some of her own seasons of difficulty in life to the Exodus story of the Israelites wandering forty years through the wilderness before being able to enter the land that had been promised to their ancestors. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for over 400 years and, as Christine
describes, “their broken hearts, wounded souls, and tormented minds needed to be
restored, renewed, and reset in the wilderness so that they would know how to live and
thrive in the Promised Land.” She goes on to say that as individuals today, “we routinely
go through periods [of] spiritual wilderness to unlearn certain things and relearn other things on the way to our promised land.” Christine also calls the wilderness “the land of transformation.” So I shouldn’t be surprised to find myself feeling like I’m caught in a wilderness of my own considering my year is one of transformation.*
These thoughts that Christine shares have certainly been resonating with me as I am reading through her book. I have been struggling lately through a season of waiting in the wilderness of life. And as I take time to consider where I am, I don’t think the problem is as much with the circumstances as it is with how I am handling them. As I mentioned, I am an impatient multitasker. As a result I find myself wrestling with and amongst these circumstances—rushing here and there both in my actions and in my thoughts. I’m stiving to do my best to make good decisions, be there for friends and coworkers and move forward in all areas of my life.
And as I struggle and strive from one thing to the next, I find myself feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. By the time the weekend comes I just want to sleep and rest. I am also feeling discouraged. Situations are taking longer than I expected and I feel like I’m falling short in so many areas. And my pelvic pain is getting worse. Sure, I sit too much and I haven’t been good about doing yoga regularly, but I suspect my increase in pain has very little to do with these physical triggers and more to do with my stress and mental exhaustion. So where do I go from here?
As it turns out, today’s message at church just so happened to be focused around the idea of waiting in the wilderness. The speaker described how we should respond in periods of wilderness waiting. One of the examples he gave was Psalm 37:7, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” I should be still and wait patiently—the opposite of impatience and multitasking which I do so well.
So perhaps that is my answer. Maybe I am in this wilderness period to unlearn impatience and multitasking. Maybe I am in this land of transformation to learn how to be still and wait patiently. And as I be and wait with stillness and patience, maybe I will start to see the beauty of the wilderness around me. It certainly helps to know that waiting in the wilderness is preparing me to thrive in my future promised land. (I just hope it doesn’t take me forty years to get there!)