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  • Writer's pictureDarryl Buckle

Wait! But…

I heard recently that over 75% of all crosswalk buttons in New York have been disconnected for decades.  “Mechanical Placebos”

They leave them there because It would cost over a million dollars to remove them, and because it gives people something to do while they’re waiting…

I mentioned this to my wife and she replied, “People need to feel like they have some agency.  Without agency people would get destructive.”

Liking where this was going and imagining my wife throwing rocks at parked cars, I probed her a bit.

“Civilized people press the button and wait, contented that they have done what they could do when forced to wait”, nay should do when faced with red handed opposition.

People want to do – not nothing, but something.  What brave souls for generations have done.  To raise one’s hand to the air and apply what force one has to the button of waiting is active.  it’s Noble.

keep calm

My wife is an academic, you see.  She’s a serious student of nobility, especially of the British type.  And the Brits get agency.

On September 7th, 1940 the Germans started dropping what would amount to over 100 tons of high explosives on 16 cities in Britain.  What did the people living in Britain do?  Agency

Keep calm and Carry on.

If you don’t care for the Brit’s suggestions, the Bible has a few ideas to offer of what to do when you’re waiting.

Sit down

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46

In a world where God alone is sovereign and his ways are not our ways, there isn’t always a button that you can push to move the traffic along.  If there was it wouldn’t necessarily be attached to anything.  But that’s ok ’cause in those instances where God in his sovereign care sets you in a place of limited agency, what you can do there is cease striving, sit still until your inside reflects your outside, and rest in the assurance that God will come out on top.

Shut up

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.  Ecclesiastes 5:1

I’ve recently been faced with one of those puzzling experiences in life when the pieces don’t seem to fit together to make a clear picture of anything – much less anything worth printing on a puzzle.  As I’ve been praying my way through this, trying to find all the corner pieces, I’ve been doing my best not to do all the talking.  Sometimes this is hard.  In some situations, If I can make sense of it, I will, and gladly explain it to God.  Other times it’s far too complicated and thus much much easier.  “…Hey God, did you see that?… I’ve got nothing. You better figure this one out.  Just tell me what I need to know when I need to know it.”

The point here isn’t just to quiet your opinions and self justifications, ambitions or plans.  It’s to take a posture of listening while you’re waiting for God’s timing to be full.  There are secrets to be heard in the silence of waiting.  Don’t miss it.

Be Brave

Wait patiently for the LORD.  Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.  Psalm 27:14

This one’s important.  When agency feels like it’s failed and there’s nothing you can do – no button to push and nothing within reach to throw at someone – remember, there’s always fear and irrational panic.

Not to minimize perfectly rational, well informed fear.  Sometimes there is ground to be covered by planning your strategy to survive the pending apocalypse.  It’s just that fear and worry are less like your trusty survival guide and more like ugly cousins that drop in and start stealing your rations.

The good news is, fear gives you something to do while waiting.  Not give in, practice bravery.  Bravery is an honest days work.

Bravery is when you stir up faith instead of fretting.

Bravery is when you thank God for the furnace ’cause you know it’s you being forged.

Bravery is what keeps you moving when you’re faced with another incline.  As Churchill put it:


That’s Bravery.  That’s agency.

What are you supposed to do while you’re waiting?  Hope.  …and keep going.


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