We have an ongoing debate in our household: should we wait for the bus?

Imagine it’s approaching dusk and you’re standing at a bus stop in a foreign country with somewhere to be. You’ve been out walking in the countryside, say, and you lost track of time. It’s rural, you’re running late, you don’t have phone signal, and the place you need to be is still several miles away.  It’s cold, windy, wet. You can’t read the sign, and you’re incredibly relieved to have come across a bus stop, but you don’t actually know when the next bus will come…if ever. Do you wait for the bus, or do you abandon the bus stop and get walking before the sun sets?

It’s metaphorical of course, though no doubt, one day, we’ll be having the debate under an actual bus stop, huddled together against the cold, checking our watches every three minutes, because sometimes life is just like that.

On the “wait for the bus” side of the debate we have support from the “what will be, will be” team. You’ll know these people by their personal tagline, which comes out any time you bring up an important life decision: “It will happen when the time is right.” Fighting for what you want is counterproductive, they say. We need to learn to recognise how little we control and receive life for what it is – a gift. When it comes down to the specifics, they’ve got some advice.

  • Spiritually, we should wait for God. Our striving and personal effort gets in the way of receiving from God.
  • Professionally, we should faithfully get on with our work and see what happens. Pursuing influence or promotion or ambition just makes us crazy and desperate and blind to unexpected opportunities. Haven’t you heard those stories about people who were ardently pursuing success, and when they stopped, it came to them?
  • Relationally, if we want friends, we should be patient; it takes time to meet like-minded people and get to know them. If we want to get married, we should hang on in there, because “it will happen when the time is right.” If we want babies, we should “just relax,” because, little known fact: trying to get pregnant is the best contraceptive ever.

Essentially, what this team are saying, is if you leave the bus stop and start walking, you for sure are going to see the very bus you were waiting for overtake you and zoom on ahead to your destination, full of warm, smiley, dry people who had the wisdom to wait for the bus. The bus stop is a gift; receive it and the bus will come.

On the other side of the fence we have support from the “where there is a will, there is a way” team. These are the people who have angrily edited an English proverb that they really do not believe, because it’s no good just waiting around not believing in things, you should get out there and do something about it. Pursuing what you want simply cannot be counterproductive, they say, shaking their heads; it is the very way you get what you want. Bring up an important life decision with these guys and you’re likely to get a response like “so what you are you going to do about it?” They’ve got some specific advice as well:

  • Spiritually, we should pursue God. We should seek him, earnestly, wholeheartedly, with effort and integrity. Do you think people who are in a good place spiritually got there by lying around waiting for something to happen?
  • Professionally, we should create opportunity. Success comes to those who get out there and make it happen. Success comes to those who do the work.
  • Relationally, we should be intentional. Sure, lots of people get knocked up unintentionally, but a little education on human reproductive biology would go a long way to preventing that happening when the time is ‘wrong’ and helping it happen with the time is ‘right.’ And friends? Good friends don’t just happen; they come through a series of kind, brave, sacrificial choices and through committing to invest in the people you do meet.

Essentially what this team is saying is “the good Lord gave you two perfectly good feet, so if you’ve got somewhere to be, get walking!”

I’ve polarised the two positions, but I do think that a lot of us have an inclination towards one or the other. Which do you tend to lean towards? Are you happy with where you sit on the continuum between ‘wait for the bus’ and ‘get yo ass walking’?

The obvious answer in most situations is that you need both approaches, or at least balance between the two. Even the “wait for the bus” team aren’t really advocating zero input which is what the radical “it will happen when the time is right” position would be. Even the “get walking” team aren’t denying that true magic happens when that sparkling something that’s out of your control gets added to your efforts and labour. Working it out in real life isn’t easy though, because for each decision, it’s not always clear quite where that sweet spot of balance is. After all, sometimes to get walking, you’ve got to leave the bus stop.

“Position yourself.” That’s usually where we end up. You do your bit, by showing up, working hard, educating yourself, investing, and making wise choices, but all the while you’re waiting, ready to receive, ready to be grateful.

Maybe that’s a bit like choosing to walk, but with your thumb stuck out?

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Featured image by Pixabay user Ana_J

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