Could Ye Not Watch With Me One Hour? [Part Two]
(continued from Part One) So how do we engage our agency as we wait upon the Lord? How do we ACT instead of being acted upon in the times when we can’t, or don’t know how to, or just feel like we aren’t moving forward? Here are 4 ideas:
First, we can choose to LEARN.
Now this doesn’t mean obsessive redundant searches for the very answers and guidance that the Lord in His wisdom has us waiting for. This is learning as an attribute of godliness. Learning because, as President Hinckley said: “None of us knows enough. The learning process is an endless process. We must read, we must observe, we must assimilate, and we must ponder that to which we expose our minds. You cannot afford to stop. There is so much to learn.”
Throw yourself into study of a spiritual gift you want to develop. Take up the cello. Construct a historical timeline of Papua New Guinea. Read a biography. Increase your understanding of the Atonement. I have seen blessings flow into the lives of people I love who have chosen to seek learning in times when direction and other blessings just weren’t coming.
Choosing to learn can help us wait upon the Lord.
Second, we can choose to SERVE.
My mama is fond of saying that “a person all wrapped up in themselves makes a very small package.” And it’s easy to get wrapped up in ourselves in times of waiting; especially if we get caught up searching for a “why” to the waiting. President Monson said it this way: “Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish.”
So, give compliments. Do favors. Spend time. Share your talents. fulfill your callings, work in the temple, be an excellent home or visiting teacher. Even just turning our hearts outward enough to pray for the needs of another person before our own can help us learn to wait. We may even find that our own waiting deepens both our capacity and our inclination to “mourn with those that mourn.”
My favorite verse of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” says “stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death, I found him by the highwayside. I roused his pulse, brought back his breath, revived his spirit and supplied wine, oil, refreshment. He was healed. I had myself a wound concealed. But from that hour forgot the smart, and peace bound up my broken heart.”
Choosing to serve can help us wait upon the Lord.
Third, we can choose to REMEMBER.
This is another word that Satan has sort of co-opted in our modern language. Often when we say we remembered something, we say it like remembering is something that happens TO us, rather than an action we take. But we can choose to remember. And we can choose when we remember, and what we remember.
We can remember our blessings. We can remember His love. We can remember the moments of clarity and power that are the foundation of our testimonies, however distant they may seem.
Rene Daumal wrote: “You cannot stay on the summit forever. You have to come down. So why bother in the first place? Just this. What is above knows what is below. What is below cannot know what is above. One climbs. One sees. One descends. One sees no longer, but one HAS SEEN. There is an art to conducting oneself in the lower regions according to the memory of what one saw higher up. What one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”
In some way, at some time, all of us who are waiting now have seen. And choosing to remember can help us wait upon the Lord.
And finally, we can choose to REST.
I vividly remember the first time my yoga instructor referred to downward facing dog as a “resting pose”. With my hamstrings screaming and my hands slipping in the sweat that was literally dripping from my forehead, all I could think was “you have got to be kidding me.” Nothing about that pose felt restful. In fact, it was a LOT of work! But as I practiced, I came to understand the concept of “active rest”. Our bodies do this naturally with healthy sleep--chemicals balance out, energy stores are readied for use, damage is repaired. There’s a lot going on while we “rest”. In yoga, resting poses are a time to check in, correct your alignment, take note of tension or pain, gather energy, and make choices about your practice going forward.
Bearing little resemblance to the “veg in front of the tv with potato chips and Haagan Daaz” kind of rest, the rest of the Lord is an inner stillness and trusting confidence at the core of life regardless of what other motion is going on around it.
It’s okay that life goes slower than we’re capable of moving sometimes. Like the natural cycle of night and day, winter and spring, we can use those waiting times to center ourselves, evaluate our goals, gather strength and light and love, and take time to heal.
Choosing to rest can help us wait upon the Lord.
One of my favorite songs from Rob Gardner's “Lamb of God” captures the essence of what I’ve learned about waiting upon the Lord. It’s sung by the apostle Thomas, and I’d like to quote the words:
“Not now, but in the coming years, (it may not be when we demand) we’ll read the meaning of our tears. And there, sometime we’ll understand; why what we long for most of all eludes our open, pleading hands. Why ever silence meets our calls, somewhere, sometime we’ll understand. Sometime we’ll fall on bended knee and feel there, graven on his hands. Sometime with tearless eyes we’ll see what here we could not understand. So trust in God through all thy days. Fear not, for he doth hold thy hand. Though dark thy way, still sing and praise. Sometime, sometime, we’ll understand.”
So whether you’re stuck in a job you hate but can’t quit and every door that seems to open closes before you can get through it, or it’s been two years of praying every day for the next step in your life and you still don’t know what it is, or you were strong and happy and knew where you were headed only to get sideswiped by an illness that completely flattens you, or you’re turning 31 and the only plan you ever really wanted had you married with 4 kids by now,
Wherever you are waiting (and at any given time, most of us are waiting) you can choose to learn, choose to serve, choose to remember, and choose to rest.
And I pray that you will. Because I know that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man, what God hath prepared for them that love him.” I promise you IT WILL BE WORTH THE ‘WAIT’.