Waiting – Devotions Advent 2
By Keith Spencer
dear Lord, I wait,
a thousand thoughts pressing on,
pressing in, crossing the borders of boredom,
entering the no-man’s land of indistinction,
waiting then at the gates unarmed, uncaring;
distraction building upon distraction and daydream
and I walk around in small circles, a hand on the chair,
and pause and look and turn,
an ear to the distant hum and rattle,
the score of my life,
an endless loop in uninteresting variation,
I wait until I am nearly sick of it,
sick in my heart, head throbbing,
my eyes unfixed, unclear.
Dear God, I cannot see what you see,
and truth be told it unhinges me
more often than I might otherwise admit.
And waiting demands patience,
a pricy virtue, don’t you think;
another lie we tell ourselves,
and I in my jeans and button-down from LL Bean
unaccustomed to the poverty that such waiting demands,
the humility, the emptying of self,
when self is what we know best,
who we think we are, when in truth, we are so much more,
more beyond our dreaming, our doing, our living,
but not in ourselves, not of ourselves,
for true meaning comes from outside, from another,
the one we are waiting for and poorly, still.
but there isn’t time to wait, is there?
No time to even dream whatever the gift it brings.
We wait for a moment, and not one more moment, not one,
and blink away the edge of doubt
and count the steps of the postman, the barks of our neighbor’s dog in passing,
the unlubricated complaint of our mailbox receiving the daily junk
in rusty protest, opening and closing,
and count the footfalls into the silence of distance of leather soles.
We wait to see what you see, dear God,
to know just a little,
to stretch an increment across the strands of hope,
but we cannot, will not, we refusing of our own nature,
that is no longer ours alone, but we have forgotten this and so much else.
One moment more, we swear.
for the simplicity of clarity,
for a road sign that commands
and we on a dime, on our heels, in that very place would turn in joy,
and run and leap and sing until we doubled over from the very outpouring of expression, of movement,
the waiting then over,
only if a sign appeared.
But we find ourselves in place, unmoved and unmoving,
a pause for the glacial pace of change to thaw,
and crash in torrents and carve the world anew,
we beholding with our own eyes the work and will of God,
calling, urging, speaking to our life in unambiguous meaning and direction.
We wait for this,
but all is already new and being renewed,
for everything is changing, changed, and we are waiting,
for what has already come to pass,
we mistakenly ambassadors in residence, rather than pilgrims on the road;
to wait while going,
to live out the paradox of an Advent faith,
of an Easter God,
of an always creating Creator who only asks us
to be who we are called to be in Christ,
in humility, in brokenness, in serving, in love:
To embody our love for God in our love for one another,
until Christ returns.
Waiting and silence.
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
Such a rare and precious combination.
But not alone the realm of nuns and monks and mystics or of some past generation’s piety.
And not innate, not easily grasped in comfort, but a discipline to be practiced, to train up in, in order to drink of its blessing for us.
Consider the discipline of intentional waiting and silence for this week, five minutes building longer as you go, letting go and just entering into the presence of God and inviting God to use that time for whatever God might desire.
I am weary with my crying;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
We do not want to wait any longer than necessary – and to our thinking it should never be necessary at all. Not in an instant-on world. Not in a fully connected, Google-infused, half-human/half robotic sounding voice that will always guide us to our destination and help us to find our way home while it confirms our flight and orders us pizza world. A click, print, ship world. A “I can Facetime with my sister-in-law somewhere in the Ukraine any time I want” world. Waiting? Seriously?
Well-meaning Christians scour the Scriptures looking for texts that spur them on to go. Go make disciples! Here I am send me! Words of waiting are much less popular. We want to go do something. But what happens when the word from the Lord says “Wait” as sometimes it inevitably will.
The longer we have to wait for God, the more uncomfortable we get. In the lengthening silence the questions that arise prick at our faith. But what if that silence is a gift, not a sign of neglect? A gift and not a punishment. A gift and not indifference?
For what do you wait for God to speak a word? And how might this waiting be received by you as a gift?
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
LORD, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope.
Waiting from wherever we may find ourselves, whatever place, situation, or moment is an act of trust. Trust that our needs and our cries will be heard. Trust that God’s promises will continue without condition or limit. Trust that God truly loves us and is for us. Such trust is an act of complete surrender of one’s will to the will of One far greater.
Where are the deep places in which you need to surrender and place a deeper trust in God?
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
Waiting for the Lord is an act of courage.
Saying “No” to fear. Whispering it. Shouting it. Yelling it.
Declaring that there is something stronger than our fear, than even death itself.
What fear in your life needs to encounter God in and through the courage that God gifts to you in Christ Jesus today and always?
Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.
Repentance calls us to turn from our way to God’s way, to change direction, to return from dead ends and endless mazes, to change paths to one that leads us through the shadows and into the light.
Reflect upon what the Lord is trying to teach you today as you walk his path.
And now, O LORD, what do I wait for?
My hope is in you.
We transition this day from a week of waiting into the fullness of the fruit that such waiting produces: hope.
What has your week of waiting produced?
Keith Spencer is the pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
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