For the Living of These Days—A Word from Jim England

The Courage to Wait

We packed the car, loaded everybody in and left our home in Rolla, Missouri, en route to Covington, Kentucky, to visit my parents nearly 500 miles away. We’d gone about two miles and turned on Interstate 44 when a preschool voice from the back seat said, “When we bein’ there?” I said, “It’s a long way and we just got started.” Perhaps you want to ask in Highland’s interim season, “When will this be over? How long is this trip to our destination of a new pastor?”

We have been over a year now. Our own history reminds us that these transitions typically take 20-24 months. Why does it take so long? Why can’t we speed things up? I can only say we need the courage to wait.

Not waiting requires courage. Most waiting requires courage. Most waiting requires patience and acceptance that things take time. Courage guides how we wait. Courage is needed to face and walk through the pain of loss. There is a need to sit with the personal and corporate emptiness of griefs. Filling the emptiness too soon leads to rebound relationships that often are a poor choice for both parties.

Courage is required for introspection. Who are we? Where are we going? Why? Asking and answering tough questions may even make us feel uncertain about the future. I like the security of knowing all the answers. Yet real answers require the courage to say “I don’t know.” My wife and I like word puzzles. Often we get stuck figuring out an answer. We have learned to set the puzzle aside for a while and come back a little later. Our subconscious mind keeps working. We usually get the answer when we come back.

For now, we ask what will Highland be like in 5 years? What will I be like (besides older)? What kind of church do I want for my children and grandchildren? What kind of person will want to go where we want to go? How willing am I to be led by God’s Spirit? Such questions take some courage.

I remember sitting with a Muslim woman, waiting during brain surgery on her son. We knew each other but did not speak the same language. Her cousin, who spoke English, arrived with a thermos of hot tea. She poured a cup of steaming tea and placed it on the floor between us. I shifted away from that cup so that I would not accidentally knock over her tea. That’s when the cousin said, “That cup is for you.” I marvel still at a woman practicing hospitality at such a painful time of waiting. She did one of the best things she knew.

During this interim, I want to practice the best I know and trust God and you for the outcome.