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Waiting

It was the eminent American theologian Tom Petty who once sang that ‘The waiting is the hardest part.’ We, like millions of other families, are currently waiting. We are waiting for next week, when Mum enters the Brompton Hospital for her investigations. Admission is Monday, procedure is Tuesday, we are told the results Wednesday, and if surgery is feasible, that happens Friday.

Meanwhile, even a short wait from Monday last week when the consultant broke the potential news, feels like it is dragging. If it feels like that to me, I don’t know what it is like for Mum or Dad.

And there are others who wait much longer. In Scipture, waiting is often for years, decades, even centuries – for the hope of the Messiah to ease the pain of God’s people (and even then he wasn’t in the form they expected).

Yet one thing I must recognise is that God uses waiting positively. ‘Waiting’ and ‘hoping’ are interchangeable English translations of Hebrew, if I recall correctly. (Compare different English versions of Isaiah 40:31). I believe God can use the waiting period to shape us. George Carey once said to me at Trinity College, Bristol that theological training wasn’t simply about information, it was about formation. And isn’t that true of the whole Christian life? God is forming us. One means he uses is waiting. As we pray, struggle, wrestle and argue, God forms us more into the image of Christ.

I pray that God is doing that for us as a family right now. If you are waiting, is he doing it for you?

When the singer Sam Phillips was operating on the Contemporary Christian Music scene under the name Leslie Phillips, she wrote a song that I imagine her paymasters didn’t like. It was called ‘Answers Don’t Come Easy’, and it returns to me at times like this. She sang:

I can wait
It’s enough to know you can hear me now
I can wait
It’s enough to feel you near me now
And when answers don’t come easy
I can wait

I think she was wise.

Church Typos

Ekklesia News reports on the Top Ten Church Magazine Typos, as voted for at Ship Of Fools.

The best church typo I witnessed was in an Anglican church in Bristol. In the days of Xerox machines, they had duplicated a liturgy for prayers of intercession, using the Litany from the Alternative Service Book. When it got to praying for the Government, the sheet didn’t say, “Endue the High Court of Parliament and all the Ministers of the Crown with wisdom and understanding” but “Endure the High Court of Parliament …”.