“Never mistake movement for action.” -Ernest Hemingway

There’s a big difference between movement and action. Movement is just motion for the sake of motion. Action means we pick a course and stick to it. While the old adage is true that it’s easier to steer a moving ship, it doesn’t justify sailing the wrong direction in a storm. The action of purposeful waiting, say in a harbor while the storm passes, would have been a better choice. 

We Hate Waiting

We hate waiting. Just look at any grocery store line (those are abundant these days) and you’ll see a bunch of people trying very hard not to wait. We often use these waiting times to catch up on things we can’t justify doing at others times – we check social media, play a round of our favorite game, or scroll our messages looking for that elusive unread text. We are standing still, for sure, but we haven’t stopped moving.

We do the same thin in our daily lives. We are waiting for “normal” life to return and how do we do it? Often with a lot of movement. Walk through your neighborhood. You’ve never seen so many clean garages. Most of us can attest that we’ve eaten more food and spent more time on shows, social media, and games in this season of waiting than at any other point in our lives. Why?

Waiting makes us feel useless. We want to have a purpose and if we don’t have one we’ll settle for being busy. Most of us would say a successful day comes down to feeling like we did something. But simply “doing stuff” can’t be our standard as Christians.

Called To Wait

As Christians we are called to wait. Jesus tells us that our actions only have power when we rest in him (John 15:5) and Isaiah reminds us that it is in this waiting on the Lord that we are renewed, strengthened, and made effective (40:31). We wait daily, as a discipline, so that we can hear what the Lord directs and not simply follow what we feel. 

Waiting on God is actually a lot like waiting on winds for sailing. We are ready for the right moment, equipped for the work, attentive to the conditions and purpose we’ve been called to. We’re not just going to rush into a storm for no reason, but there are times when heading into the storm is exactly what we need to do. 

Wait As An Action

This week let’s remember that we are waiting on purpose. We are resting, preparing for the work that is before us. It’s an active waiting.

Some of us are in full swing, going into overdrive to act as we are called. First responders, medical professionals and healthcare workers are all in this boat. The storm is raging and they’re headed in full-tilt. Others of us are biding our time and serving where we can. Within our own families the chances to serve, to wait together, and to leave space to hear what God is telling us is critical. Let’s fight the urge to simply move this week and set aside time to rest, abide, and wait. 

This week we can heed Mr. Hemingways call to action – we can choose to avoid simply staying busy and instead take action; even if it’s the action of waiting.