Monday, December 17, 2007

WAITING - December 15, 2007

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
Psalm 130:5

Waiting is not my forte. Especially at Christmas time. I have too much to do to wait while you dig out your coupons from the bottom of your bottomless purse—and then discover that you left your check book in the car. Oh, ye, who blocks the aisle with your shopping cart, totally obvious to my anxious presence—beware! I’ll be smiling and cordial when you turn and apologize profusely for inconveniencing me, but, trust me, you don’t want to know what I am thinking. Practicing patient grace during the holiday rush is one of the best gifts you can bestow in the long, lingering lines and parking lot jams of holiday life.

Examples of waiting overflow the pages of the Bible. Abraham and Sarah had to wait until they were ancient before they had a baby. Poor Noah and his family waited for the torrential rains to stop and the flood waters to recede, all the while pitching poop over the side of the ark (just think what a major job THAT was, with the myriad of monkeys, mules, mynahs and gobs of other prolific poopers sequestered on the ark!!!). Joseph, Paul, and Peter, languished in prisons—with no blackberries, I-pods, or laptops to keep their minds off their troubles. But that’s nothing compared to God’s chosen people waiting hundreds of years in captivity or exile, and even centuries for the Messiah to come! And we complain about a two hour delay in an airport!

You would think that by this time in my life I would have gained some skill in the waiting game, but I don’t see much progress on my part. I bet Methuselah was an expert at waiting, given all the experience he accrued during his 969 years on this earth! Mature waiting involves patience, faith, trust, and hope. I can engender small amounts of these spiritual qualities some of the time, but to get them all active at the same time and in sync would take a miracle. Occasionally that miracle does indeed happen and I know that I am standing on holy ground, surrounded by grace.

Elizabeth Canham, in “Pay Attention to How You Listen” (Weavings, November/December 2007) reminds us that “even God waited for the fullness of time before Christ was born among us (Galatians 4:4).” Waiting on God’s timing—whether that be humdrum, day-to-day waiting in a slow-moving check out line or crisis waiting in a hospital waiting room or waiting for the fire truck to arrive, “waiting is a holy thing.”

Waiting—a holy thing??? You’ve got to be kidding! But think about this for a moment. In the midst of the rush, rush, rush of life, waiting is an opportunity to give God a call or send him a text message. Better yet, it is a time to listen for God’s voice.

For a child, waiting for Christmas morning is excruciating. This was especially true for me the year I was eight. In January, we would be moving from New York to Indiana, and my Dad’s new job required that he move to Indiana ahead of us while Mom stayed at home to sell the house. Daddy was driving home for Christmas and I was so excited to see him that I could hardly stand it. Mom made me go to bed, promising me that she would wake me when Daddy got home. Amazingly, I was able to fall asleep.

It was my Daddy’s voice drifting from the kitchen into my subconscious that roused me. I dashed into the kitchen and made a bee line for his lap. I was in seventh heaven! How often do we listen for our Heavenly Father’s voice with such anticipation? Are we eager to find God home in our hearts? I challenge you to take the opportunity to listen for your Heavenly Daddy’s voice while you wait in line for gas, wait for the light to change, wait for…whatever. And then watch for that “all is calm, all is bright” feeling to warm your heart.

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