iWait | Genesis 8:6-12
At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore. Genesis 8:6-12 | ESV
Waiting. Let us attempt a definition. To wait is to suffer through interminable, frustrating, immobilizing inactivity in the midst of a pressing desire to move that is practically bursting out of your chest. And we hate it. Every. Aggravating. Minute. Of. It. It’s why we have multiple self-checkout lines in our superstores. Who wants to wait for the checker to tediously, slowly drag each item across that scanner as they make small talk with that person ahead of you (you know, the one with the 30 items in the 15 items or less lane and a stack of coupons and at least four items that have to be researched in depth for a price)? Who has the time? The lack of late night self-checkout lanes is one of the key reasons I stopped shopping at a certain local superstore. Fair trade and social justice issues? Would that I were so deep (who has time for that?). I just got tired of waiting all the live-long night (it’s amazing how long five minutes can be when it’s after midnight in a superstore). Now they have a half dozen new ones open all the time, right by the door that’s open all night. Brilliant. And virtually wait free. Bliss. But here’s the interesting thing. Noah waited. For forty days and forty nights it deluged. He waited. For 150 days the waters rose. Noah waited. Six months. God remembers – though the only way Noah probably could have known that was by the sound of a new wind blowing outside his box. For another 150 days the water recedes. He waited. The ark makes landfall on Ararat and peeking out the one porthole he spies new peaks. He waits as another forty days pass. Then he sends the raven. He waits. Another seven days. He sends the dove and she returns. Another seven days. He waits… Here’s the cool thing in all of this Noahic waiting. The Hebrew word translated “wait” here doesn’t mean listless, frustrating, immobilized and immobilizing inactivity. It actually means to whirl, to twirl, to dance. Yes, it can also mean to writhe in terror. Perhaps it was an earthy mixture of both, just as it is for us as we too wait in our stinking box peering out through our single porthole in the midst of our mess. Seeing this gave me a completely fresh picture of Noah in that box of his. No stoic reclining was this. He writhed. He twirled. He danced a dance brimming with the mixed melodies of fright, fear, anger, joy and anticipation. He writhed with all of creation as it was smothered in watery darkness; he twirled with delight at the sound of that mother of all blow-drying winds; he did hand springs when at last he felt the boat connect with solid ground below and when the top of those mountains could be seen. Waiting is a dreadful, writhing dance of anticipation. The challenge is to let ourselves feel it, to enter it, to express it, as we, with Viktor Navorski passionately chant, “I wait! I wait!”
How well do you handle waiting? What can help us to transform waiting into a life-giving dance?
Lord, teach me the steps of this writhing, joyful dance of waiting. Let me learn to wait well. Through Jesus.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.