Pastor’s Perspective – November 2022
Let’s play a game.
One of these things is not like the other. Which one of these promises are not in the Bible?
- Moses and the Hebrews will wait for 40 years before entering the Promised Land.
- The Jewish people will spend 70 years in exile waiting to return home.
- Jesus will, in the future, return to bring His Kingdom to earth.
- Free overnight delivery is included in your order.
Why is waiting upon the Lord so deeply embedded within the promises of God? Why does God force us to wait, sometimes generations, to see the fulfilment of God’s promises? Why can we get a pizza delivered within minutes of our order, yet God makes us endure decades of waiting until we receive the promises of the scripture?
Once we move beyond our own petulance, we discover that God has incredibly important reasons for delaying God’s movements and responses. The people of God grew to expect to wait upon the Lord. They sang hymns about waiting, they wrote poems and maxims recognizing that the God who seemed to be slow to act was also slow to judge. They recognized that God’s delays fostered faith and trust in the people. The waiting was part of the instruction. And so the people of God waited.
They waited through the rise and fall of Kings and Kingdoms. They waited through exiles and attacks. They waited in bondage, and they waited in freedom. They waited for words from God and then they waited for the Word of God, the Messiah. And then, when the angel’s declared the long wait was over and the Messiah was born, they waited yet another 30 years for Jesus to reveal himself. 2000 years after His resurrection from death, we still wait upon the Lord’s return to rule the world.
Our world, however, is unaccustomed to waiting.
Waiting annoys us. It infuriates us.
We live in a culture in which we time takeout orders. A culture in which we anticipate things to be delivered the same day or the next day. A culture in which speed is the coin of the realm.
God doesn’t play by our rules. God makes us wait. Why is waiting such an important aspect of spiritual maturity and growth? What is it that God expects us to do while we wait?
The Season of Advent helps us to engage in the spiritual exercise of waiting. Advent reminds us that, while all of God’s promises have not yet been fulfilled, God’s word is true. This waiting is an exercise in faith and trust. Advent helps us to remember that seasons of waiting allow us to be transformed by God. This transformation is imperative for the people of God to be ready for what God will do. Those who can wait without anger are more spiritually mature than those who cannot. Patience can serve as a litmus test to our own spiritual maturity.
We have grown accustomed to getting what we want and getting it immediately. It has coarsened out hearts and damaged our souls. We have grown accustomed to living like Kings and Queens, getting our way in nearly every aspect of our lives. We feel that we control the world and its resources and that everyone around us should serve our needs without question or delay. We are a society of spoiled and petulant children, who want Christmas morning to be our year-round standard of life.
We all see the results. A wealthy, heartless, addicted, desire-driven, rage-fueled, community of tyrants. We lead the world in debt, obesity, and consumption. We can deliver the goods and services in a heartbeat but cannot figure out how to get along with our neighbors and co-workers.
When we get what we want immediately, then we begin to think that we are in control. Some even begin to believe that they are God. We believe that we can do whatever we desire, and everyone must serve us. But when we wait upon the Lord, we are forced to acknowledge that there’s someone else whose agenda is more important than ours.
Which brings us to the necessity of Advent waiting. Our societal speed has left us ill-prepared for spiritual growth. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time, effort, rest, and silence. We can’t “will” ourselves to grow, neither can we force the issue with passion or effort. We must simply live in the Way, Truth and Life of Jesus as God does the work of growth in our bodies and spirits. And that means waiting upon the Lord in our daily and weekly prayers and worship.
As we wait, we become transformed and prepared for what God will do with us and in our world. Waiting teaches us patience, and patience teaches us humility, and humility prepares us to be obedient. Think of all the times Jesus simply sat in prayer. Days and nights of silent waiting. Not acting as a leader but waiting as a servant. The Creator of the Universe waited upon the directions and authority of the Father. Humble, prayerful, obedient. All traits of Jesus. All traits that we need to learn.
Perhaps that is why we are asked to wait. So that we might be patient so that we might be humble and so that we might grow in obedience to God. And fundamentally that is the work of the Church. To grow the people of God into the image of Christ: loving, humble, obedient servants of the living God.
Waiting is important and we want to help you to embrace waiting during the season of Advent. Each Wednesday during the season of Advent we will join together at 6 pm in our Fellowship Hall for Advent dinners. Once again, we will join with Garden Park Christian Church in our study. We will read Paula Gooder’s wonderful book, “The Meaning Is In The Waiting.” The Advent dinners begin on November 30. Books are available as paperbacks or in digital editions from Amazon.com. I hear they have overnight delivery.