“I’m sorry to advise you that the flight is delayed for an unspecified amount of time due to an engineering issue. Please take a seat and we will keep you updated.”
I was waiting. Again.
I should have already arrived at my destination. I should have been sitting down to enjoy a good meal with close friends who I hadn’t seen in a year. I should have already unpacked my bag, sorted my clothes, read over my notes. Instead, I was waiting. Again.
My flight had been delayed from 6am until 9.30am, this meant I would miss my connecting flight, meaning I was rescheduled to a later flight leaving at 4.30pm. It was now 5.15pm. A 1 hour flight across Bass Straight and another 1 hour drive remained. Around me, disgruntled passengers didn’t bother keeping their voices low, made hurried phone-calls, rubbed throbbing temples with pensive faces peering at their shuffling feet. It seems they enjoy waiting as much as I do, which is to say, not at all.
Waiting tells me that I am not where I was, but neither am I where I’m meant to be. I’ve left, but I haven’t arrived. It occurred to me later, sitting on our newly repaired plane as it hurtled down the runway, that though I was now moving at significant pace toward my destination, I was still waiting. It didn’t really matter if I was sitting in a terminal, or on the slightly cramped seat at 15B, I was still thinking about how far remained, how long it will take, and should I eat now or wait? At least I wasn’t dragging around my suitcase, though.
I’m told that some people are tuned for the ‘destination’, and some are wired to enjoy the ‘journey’. I’d sipped too many coffees and read 73 pages of my current book, but I still would have preferred to have been ordering a steak while laughing with friends about now, rather than wondering whether I smelled as bad as the gentleman sitting next to me did.
As I select my most recent playlist, I conclude that I’m wired for the ‘destination’, or possibly the ‘journey’ as long as it didn’t involve intolerably long delays. Maybe the problem is that I just don’t know how to wait.
Waiting for something can produce a whole range of emotions. Some say it brings out the best, while for many, the worst. I imagine I saw the entire spectrum in the transit lounge of Melbourne Airport. I wonder, what did others observe in me? Waiting can turn our emotions in on themselves, feeding on their own substance, delving ever deeper into introspection. I watched a man pacing the transit lounge who I imagine was experiencing this. It wasn’t a pleasant sight. In others, waiting unshackles something in the imagination. I watched (the young man in the black suit was still pacing) as an older woman sat looking at nothing in particular, just gazing ahead as though the vision she saw was remarkably different than the concrete runway just through the glass to my left. Later, just before we felt the thrust of the engines, I heard her explaining to someone that she was on her way to see her grand-children. I wonder if that was who she was imagining while the younger man paced.
I decided to wait like the older woman. Waiting with eager longing is still waiting, but it seemed better. Something about it seemed ‘right’ somehow, as though it was the way I had been born to wait. Waiting can seem futile; the promise of the ‘not yet’ shimmering on the horizon while we sit in the transit lounge. But I’m learning that ‘how’ we wait matters.
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. — Romans 8:19-22
It seems even Creation waits like this. Groaning not from futility, but with hope in the ‘not yet’. An eager longing.
After a weekend of joyful ministry I returned home. I’m pleased to say I had no delays. I soon held my children and kissed my wife, the long waiting now a distant memory. And so will it always be. The hope in what we do not yet see, a coming Saviour, a victorious King, a glorious future, requires we wait with patience. Let’s not pace the transit lounge. Instead, resting in the sure salvation of the Jesus who bids us rest in him, let’s gaze ahead with the eager longing of expectant friends who can’t wait to eat a meal with Jesus.
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. — Romans 8:24-25