Spent the past four days in Noah’s ark. At least that’s how it felt. Hadn’t gotten much writing done the past four weeks, so I was making up time, pretty much sequestered. With Noah. In his claustrophobic box. Genesis 5-11.
Want to share a sample that will appear on my devotions blog in mid-August. Don’t want to wait…
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.
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.
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 claustrophobic box. For another 150 days the water recedes. He waits. 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, 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 and suspense.
The challenge is to let ourselves feel it, to enter it, to express it, as we, with Viktor Navorski passionately chant,