Love is not love without waiting.
This is why we are moved when a beautiful young woman waits faithfully for her fiancé to return home from a long journey. And why we cringe to hear of a man coming home to his beloved only to learn she’s pregnant with another man’s child.
Most of us don’t think of our love for God in these terms.
He’s God and his power is limitless, after all. Somehow we think this means our love should be exempt from waiting. “If he loves me, why won’t he change my circumstances, heal me, remove this temptation, give me a husband or wife, fix my marriage, do what I want when I want it?”
I remember years ago walking across my college campus late one night filled with regret. I’d viewed pornography again, even after so many years of pleading with God to deliver me. I took my self-loathing and aimed it at him, railing, “Why won’t you just take this from me?!”
It’s so easy to interpret seasons of waiting as evidence God is absent or uncaring.
Jesus reveals a different picture of God.
Think of Jesus weeping outside Jerusalem: “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I’ve longed to gather you as a mother hen gathers her chicks.” Think of Jesus’ question to his disciple: “Have I been so long with you, Philip, and you do not know me?” Think of the question he asked his three closest friends in Gethsemene: “Could you not wait with me for even an hour?”
Do we think he is lounging poolside somewhere? Do we think angels will have to wake him from his reverie and remind him of our need?
No. He is not the one lounging. He’s preparing a place for you (John 14:2, 3). He is not the one indifferent. He is patient for your sake, not wanting you or anyone else to perish (2 Peter 2:9). He is not the one hiding from you. He is waiting desirously for you like a faithful bridegroom waits for his wedding day (Song 4).
Jesus desires us like a waiting lover. As much as we feel we’re waiting for him, he waits more for us.
Every day you wait for him to return, he waits a thousand years for you. (How else are we to understand 1 Peter 3:8?)
It is he, not us, who has opened himself up most to the risk of love, he whose Spirit intercedes within his bride with groaning too deep for words (Romans 8:26), and even so, he who has chosen faithfulness knowing he may return to a bride pregnant with another lover’s child.
When Christ returns for his bride, banqueting table set, new home prepared, will he find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)?
O Christ, Lover of my soul, have mercy on me.
O Christ, Lover of my soul, I confess the paucity of my waiting.
O Christ, Lover of my soul, teach me to turn my longing into prayer.
O Christ, Lover of my soul, when you return, may you find me chaste and waiting
for you, as you have waited so long
O Christ, Lover of my soul, don’t exempt me from waiting.