Waiting for God

by Catherine Doherty

It is impossible to convey what waiting on God or waiting for God means. Of course, God is always present; God is always with us. He is always coming to us, but we are not always awaiting his arrival.

There is a kind of waiting that is anxious. Take the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt. 20:1–16). The owner comes several times and finds that there are still people who are waiting to be hired; I call them “the waiting people.”

But this is not the kind of waiting I am talking about. These people were anxious or annoyed or depressed. They had all kinds of emotions that are incompatible with the silence of God. Only in a broad sense can we say that they were waiting for God.

No, real waiting for him is quite different; it is quiet and peaceful. You are waiting for God to do something, although you don’t know what it will be. There is immense joy in your heart.

This kind of waiting is something like waiting for a loved one to arrive. Lovers pace back and forth when the beloved is even fifteen minutes late. They are nervous and excited, out of love and concern for the beloved.

Yet waiting for God isn’t exactly like this. It is rather a tranquility, a certain tranquility that takes hold of you entirely, so that nothing stirs within you. You have only one thought: “He will come in his own time.”

There is a totality of peace. All is quiet in one’s heart. The mind is asleep but the heart is receptive. All emotions are subdued except the powerful emotion of love in one’s heart.

In this waiting for God, the totality of one’s person is at peace. When this happens, God allows you to see why other people are not at peace and why there are so many problems.

All the “whys” in the world seem to flash in front of you like a movie, but this does not disturb your own peace one iota. Rather, the “whys” incite you to pray for others and for their problems.

God has given us his own patience, to wait on him and to be ready for his coming. Do not be disturbed.

The exact hour and minute of his coming lies in his hand and in the love of his heart. My task, your task, is only to wait without emotional storms, without impatience or pacing. In the totality of our person, we are simply to be always expecting the footsteps of the Lord. Don’t ever lose the immense peace of waiting for him.

Would that I could convey something of the peace, patience, and prayerfulness which comes from my own heart, the heart of one who has stood on the silver sands and plunged into the sea of God’s infinity.

I wish that I could convey it through my writings and talks, through any means of communication. But all means have proved useless for this; it is impossible to convey. All I can say is: it is so.

At a certain time the Lord comes bounding over the mountains like a person in love: Hark! My lover—here he comes, springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills (Song 2:8). Of course, this is poetic language; yet it is the true language of love.

Other poets have tried to put into words the experience of the Lord’s coming—Francis Thompson, for example. In his poem, The Hound of Heaven, Christ speaks.

 

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“All which I took from thee I did but take,

not for thy harm,

but just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.

All which thy child’s mistake

fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:

Rise, clasp My hand, and come.”

Halts by me that footfall:

Is my gloom, after all,

shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?

“Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,

I am He whom thou seekest!”

(Francis Thompson, “The Hound of Heaven” (Oxford: A.R. Mowbray & Co., 1947, pp. 26 and 28)

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Yes, magnificent poetry, but even this falls short of expressing what happens at the Lord’s coming. There are no adequate words to express the moment of the Beloved’s arrival.

Excerpted from Molchanie (1991), pp. 93-96, available from MH Publications