I don’t like waiting much. A little waiting is okay, but more than a little and I start getting antsy. I have begun to wonder about that. When did waiting for anything become so hard? I am old enough that I remember life before computers, microwaves and endless number of channels on the TV. In my childhood waiting was a part of life. Even at amusement parks, waiting in lines was when most of the memories were made as the anticipation of the thrill built and conversations happened and laughter often ensued.
Last Thanksgiving I was visiting a friend who had a French press. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it pre-dates the percolator, the grounds are placed in a container with the hot water and allowed to steep for a certain amount of time before being pressed to the bottom so one can enjoy the wonderfully, tasty complex flavor of the coffee. The French Press is all about waiting. Hurry it along and you get a bad cup of coffee—and we all know how much I love my coffee.
So each morning when I awoke and made my way upstairs to the kitchen my friend would begin the process of making coffee. And it was a process. Beans needed to be ground, water heated up and grounds needed to steep. Lots of waiting happening, but here is what I found would happen during this process: conversation would happen, really good, sitting at the table kind of conversation, fun was planned and silence was sacred because there was no rush, we were waiting for the coffee. Those moments, maybe twenty minutes in all, led to a deeper and more meaningful relationship as we got to know one another better and explored topics we wouldn’t have necessarily explored had we had coffee ready for us.
I now have my own French press (although not as fancy as my friend’s) and I enjoy using it. Last night as I was doing dishes and getting ready for bed I realized I hadn’t used my French press in quite a while. Usually it is toss some iced coffee already made and ready in a cup as I hurriedly get ready. But today was a holiday so there was nothing but time. I woke to the soft grey of rain clouds in the early morning and the sound of rain falling outside, there couldn’t be a more perfect morning for the slow process of making coffee via a French press. In the still quiet of my home I turned on the heat under the tea kettle and as the water was heating up I remembered my grandfather whose kettle I was using and I imagined passing on this kettle some day to the next generation. Soon the water was ready and I poured the hot water onto the coarsely ground beans. More waiting. Quiet stillness. Holy moments. While the beans and water did their thing I took time to consider the scripture that had been read the day before in worship. “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice I hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take though for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
All good things to remember, all good things to do, all hard to do when we are so busy we can barely keep track of things. When we are so tired, we sleep as long as we can and jump out of bed and rush to get ready, driving through somewhere to get what passes for a meal. When we get to the end of the day and can’t remember more than the rushed movement from one place to next and the idea of serving or praying or trying to do any of those things listed above seems impossible. “Easy and quick” replaces thoughtful and involved. And we all lose something. The intentionality of a faithful life is lost. Relationships suffer and we are exhausted.
What my French press continues to teach me is that waiting is worth it. The more involved process provides bountiful, worthwhile fruit. Timesaving is not always my friend, because in the waiting, things grow, I grow.
Our Year of Service and Fellowship may seem like just one more thing to do, but it is not so far off from the Year of Prayer. Our Year of Service and Fellowship offers a time for us to slow down and be intentional about the things we choose to do. To wait, in a sense, while things grow, to nurture, to enjoy what happens in the waiting, to learn about ourselves and our relationship with God and those around us. This year is an invitation and a gift to stop and listen to the voice of God calling you into a life of service for the sake of the world. Not to do every event, every activity, every study, but to listen to your spirit and discern where God is asking you to serve and study. In many ways discerning God’s will is like making coffee in a French Press; you gather the prepared ingredients and you put them together and wait. When the time is right, you sift out the stuff that is no longer needed and what is left is beautiful and ready to be used to the glory of God.