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Please take a seat… 17 March 2017

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Life, Role-Playing Games.
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I’m not sure whether it’s a coincidence or not, but there’s a gentle irony that todays word can be fitted quite nicely into the days excuse for a party. Admittedly for most people any partying might have to be delayed until the evening, unless they are at Cheltenham Racecourse watching the horse-racing, of course.

It’s a word that on the whole we do not think of as a positive one. In an age of instant answers, instant messages and instant decisions to be told to wait is often an unwanted answer. I’m no different, and so, as a response to the generally unpleasant ‘boom-boom’ that was coming through the ceiling into my office for quite a while and making thought less than easy, decided to relocate to a more public, but ironically rather quieter location on campus. (And if any colleagues ask why I’m not in my office I can reply that I’m preparing myself for the brave new world of Autumn 2018 when we move to a new campus promising more flexible staff workspaces, that is, the world of hot-desking. I’m making myself Waterside-ready. In fact that’s a wait being treated in a different way again, but don’t get me started on that one with the complex mix of pros, cons and unknowns…)

loungeWait. The answer, or perhaps non-answer, that we so often don’t want to hear. It may be simply because we are hungry, thirsty or just plain impatient. Give me that food, that drink, that answer now!

I was wondering what faith might have to contribute to all this rambling when a story from the Old Testament came to mind. Not a story from Genesis, for a change, but a bit later. King David is safely established on the throne of the kingdom, in what is clearly understood as being God’s will, when he has a moment of realisation and looks for an answer,

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him,  the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’  Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’

Or to paraphrase, “God’s put me in this place, this luxurious palace, but there’s no glorious temple for him. That can’t be right”. Notice that even the prophet Nathan, a spokesman for God, can’t see any reason for David not to act. Not, that is, until the word of the Lord comes to Nathan that night in what is basically a gentle but firm put-down for the king. You can read it all in 2 Samuel 7 but the gist of it is simple. “Wait. I have not asked you to do this. In fact, it’s not your job. It’s for your son to do, in my time.” It might have seemed like a good idea, but the time was not right. Not a yes. Not a no. Instead a wait, a not now.

As humans we set great store on autonomy, of being in control. Every time we are forced to wait, for anything, is a reminder (however big or small) that we do not have total control. From a Biblical perspective to be in control is to be God-like. We, however, cannot simply command things into being, as a general rule. (Perhaps that’s why Siri, Cortana & Alexa have proved so popular…) From a Judaeo-Christian stance we may state that humanity is made in the image of God, but we are not God, and being forced to wait is an indication.

Perhaps more important is how we deal with that realisation. I’m sure you’ve seen it, the grumbling, the pacing up and down, the mutterings of discontent, even the verbal abuse of those unfortunate enough to be bearers of the bad news that actually, no, we cannot have it just yet! With so many things such behaviour doesn’t remove the need to wait (although it might shorten the process and force others to wait longer as the targets of our wrath decide it’s easier to placate us than to resist). Patience is seen as a virtue. That doesn’t mean lying down and letting everyone go first, but it is about recognising our boundaries, that we are not always in charge. It has benefits too: I have several RPG projects that I’ve backed. They never come on time, but usually provide all the more enjoyment for showing up unexpected, even after I’ve forgotten all about them.

And the link to the day? Well, there’s a certain Irish Stout that famously takes it time to settle. Waiting? On St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll drink to that!

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