As part of my studies in spiritual formation, this semester we are exploring the idea of soul-shaping practices. These practices are the holy habits that we put into place daily and weekly in order to put ourselves into the presence of God who is then gently and slowly able to transform us so that we begin to look more like Jesus.
I had heard of many of the practices: lectio divina, fasting, centering prayer, prayer walking, silence and solitude. However, imagine my surprise when God pointed out the practice I was to focus on and I had never heard of it: the practice of ‘waiting’.
Huh?? Waiting? What kind of spiritual practice is that, anyway? How do I practically do this daily and weekly? What will it look like? It was clear that God had his finger on that one so I began to explore this discipline.
My very first step was to ‘notice’ when I had to wait in my day, and what kind of emotions or thoughts I was experiencing. It didn’t take me long to see that whenever I have to wait, I begin to feel antsy inside, which slowly grows to minor agitation. I always knew that I was an impatient person, but to sit in the discomfort of waiting and then really notice the thoughts that were coming up, was informative. I’ve discovered how very impatient I am. And my thoughts, far from being loving in nature, begin to get slightly nasty.
I understand that God wishes to transform me into looking more Christ-like. And He has gently pointed out the depth of my impatience, showing me that it is an area that he wishes to change in me. I do not have the power myself to become more patient, In fact, I see that is darn near impossible for me to ‘will’ myself to be patient. This is the power of the holy habits. We do not do them to garner God’s love or affection or favour – we already have that because of Christ. But we do these things in order to give God space and opportunity to work on our hearts.
God reminded me of this Scripture recently from 1 Corinthians 13:4: Love is patient, love is kind…
Full stop. Right there. I see immediately why God has highlighted this practise for me. I need to look more like love, more like Jesus and right here, these first 2 characteristics need work in me!
God is good. I look forward to what else I will learn as I practice ‘waiting’ daily.