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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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wait and hope

This morning, Monday, I got up and prepared for work. Scrubs on and ready to walk out the door, I received a text that my first patient had cancelled. Now I am waiting. Swim practice is cancelled for Joshua and Samuel. Our family has a tinge of cabin-fever. We have exhausted our inside activities. Boys are loud and boisterous. The picture above shows our favorite indoor activity. We are stuck inside. Again.

Wait is a four-letter word. Waiting more than any other activity shatters my illusion of control. Perhaps that is why fast-food, drive-throughs, mail-order and many other hyphenated nouns developed. We hate to wait. I hate to wait. We are parked in a holding pattern as Matt is considering a career change.

At church we are going through a series on wisdom. Yesterday we listened to Psalm 119 being read aloud by 22 different recorded voices for each of the stanzas. When Bill Wellons first mentioned his plan to have this psalm (the longest chapter in the Bible) read aloud and that it would take 15 minutes, I admit to wiggling in my chair and planning a bathroom break. But once the voices started reading, I felt riveted to my chair. They began in the soft speak of children and ended with the wisdom of older voices. I had to resist the distraction of figuring out whose voice it was on the audible. In the end, I am reminded of the water of God’s word slaking the thirst of those panting for Him.

"Wait" is used 6 times in Psalm 119. One phrase captured my curiosity: Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Your statutes (verse 83). What? 

With just  a little googling, I came to understand that phrase better. A wineskin was the skin of an animal, maybe the actual stomach, used to store wine. Gross, right? But they didn’t have the glass or Tupperware we have today and the skins worked dandily. 

If a skin was left in smoke too long, it became covered in soot, dried and shriveled. It lost its elasticity. The tents they lived in and cooked in often were filled up with smoke. To a Hebrew this made instant sense. 

David, the alleged author of this Psalm, is describing the struggle with waiting on God. The verb “to wait” is the same as “to hope” in Hebrew and in other languages like Spanish. This psalm uses both to wait and to hope in English. But in Hebrew it is the same word. Hope and wait are used almost interchangeably.

Waiting makes me feel useless, dried up, shriveled. I lose my flexability the longer I wait. Yeah. Kind of like a wineskin in smoke. 

Today I realize that waiting is more terrifying than anything. I am more afraid of waiting than I am of preparing to live in a third world country or of actually living in a third world country. I had a mission. I had instructions. I was buoyed by the illusion of feeling important. 

In waiting, I come face to face with my creaturehood. And in waiting, I am forced to decide my source of hope. 

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