On entering one of the local nursing homes I was greeted by one of the elderly ladies sitting in the lobby at the main entrance who asked, “Are you the one I am waiting for?” My response was that I was not and then I asked, “Who are waiting for?” She said, “My husband.” I assured her that I was not her husband and as she looked me over decided I was not the one she was waiting for; I was not her husband. She was disappointed, and I was relieved.
After that brief encounter with a woman who seems to have lost some of her faculties, her question remained with me leading me to ask myself, “Am I, or any of us, the one someone else is waiting for? For whom are we and for what are we waiting?” Then I had a bunch of thoughts, like, maybe in Life we are endlessly waiting for someone or something else. Like the lady in the nursing home, our waiting can be a disappointing experience, or it can be the whole reason for our existence.
Anticipation, I guess, is a better way of describing the idea of waiting. As children we anticipate the liberation of adulthood; only to find that childhood was probably freedom after all. We anticipate earning degrees or certificates that give us credentials to be whatever it is we want to be or promotion and a raise that recognizes our skill and dedication to our work. We anticipate the birth of children, and we expect their changes as they progress through development.
There are times when waiting wears down our patience. We want whatever it is now! Instant gratification is what that is called. Sadly people often think, if I can’t have it now it is not worth waiting for. Eager-ness may blind us to what is worth waiting for and worse yet, the people or the opportunities right in front of us.
In our search for the right person or the right answer, there is a tendency to doubt what is right. Are we failing, because of impatience, to see the miracles God places in our sight? I don’t mean to be trite or uncritical. But there are times when the obvious is overlooked. For example, in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the main character fails to see the obvious. She is in love with a man she hopes is attracted to her. However, she believes that he is in love with another woman. All through the book, as I am reading it, I wanted the two to match up. But as the book comes to an end my fear is that they won’t; the attraction between the two seems so clear, why can’t they see it too?
The story is about the Channel Islands between Britain and France at the close of World War II. The Islands were the only British territory occupied by Nazi forces. Throughout the story, people are waiting. With and without patience, they were waiting for the Nazi occupation to end. The Islanders were waiting for children to return from England. And they were waiting for rewarding and fulfilling relationships. Because some of the characters were not willing to wait for answers, for people, or for events to materialize, they short-change their opportunities. The main characters are right on the brink of losing their futures, but wisdom prevails. The end result mainly is that I, as the reader (or voyeur of these people’s experiences) get the ending I want, I am deeply satisfied. The one thing I did not do, and I recommend this to everyone, was to look at the last page of the book until I arrived there.
In life, we cannot go to the last page to see how everything is going to turn out. We have to read every page as it presents itself. Unlike reading a book, we are not the voyeurs, but instead, we are the characters.
In the Gospel according to Luke, we read of a question similar to the one the woman asked me at the front door of the nursing home. Luke reports that John-the-Baptist sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the one for whom they were waiting, or should they wait for another. Jesus responds, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me” (7:22-23).
Maybe John-the-Baptist was running out of patience. He not only wanted to know but needed to know, if the prophecies concerning the Messiah had been fulfilled in Jesus. John’s light was diminishing, and Jesus’ fame was spreading all over Galilee and Judea. John had to know if Jesus was more than a wonder worker; if he was the one, the Jewish people were waiting for. If so, John’s mission was completed.
The result of the lives of these two men, John-the-Baptist and Jesus-the-Messiah, is that the question can be turned around. The question can be asked of us, “Are you the one God is waiting for?” We can only hope that we do have a divine purpose or potential. However, the question is more important than the answer.
The characters in the Guernsey story open their eyes and hearts and come to realize that their bliss is right in front of them, not in some distant place and time. We too can come to understand that when we open our hearts and minds to God that our lives, our purpose, and our bliss can also be fulfilled.
If you sense God is asking, “Are you the one I have been waiting for?” Even a tentative “yes” will open new opportunities and challenges as you search for meaning in your existence
 Published in 2008, and written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows Mary Ann Shaffer passed away in February 2008 and could not complete the work on her novel; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first. Her niece, Annie Barrows, who is the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean, as well as The Magic Half completed the book for Shaffer. This book is published by Dial Press and is available through many book retailers. I recommend this book to all readers who love a good story.