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He Values a Waiting Posture: Advent Week One.

Advent: Week One


Reading— Jeremiah 31: 2, 8-9

2 This is what the Lord says:

“The people who survive the sword

will find favor in the wilderness;

I will come to give rest to Israel.”

See, I will bring them from the land of the north

and gather them from the ends of the earth.

Among them will be the blind and the lame,

expectant mothers and women in labor;

a great throng will return.

9 They will come with weeping;

they will pray as I bring them back.

I will lead them beside streams of water

on a level path where they will not stumble,

because I am Israel’s father,

and Ephraim is my firstborn son.

In our Amazon-Prime lives, where we rarely have to wait more than two days for a delivery to arrive on our stoop, or the 5 minute drive to a store where we can purchase just what we need, we don’t do well waiting. Productivity and busyness typify our society. These traits are central to our value system.

Waiting is of high value to God. All over Scripture God has his people stay put for stretches of time. Abraham and Sarah didn’t have a son until old age, the Israelites had a 40-year trek to the Promised Land, Hannah longed for children, Joseph was stuck in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, the bleeding woman in the New Testament suffered 12 years growing worse and worse. It feels like too much sometimes. With the Psalmists we scream out the same plea, “How long, O Lord?” The silence can seem cruel.

I have known the painful drudgery of waiting. After celebrating my first year of marriage this year, which seemed to fly by, the many years waiting in comparison felt like a burden, slowing down my days. My 20’s passed, my 30’s passed and half of my 40’s passed until God decided to bring someone. I had given up. I have dear friends who still wait. I wait with them.

The Old Testament hints. It heralds a hopeful message. It points us forward. Sin disabled humanity to our core. Salvation was a palpable need. Darkness was overlaying the entire human race. Meanwhile, God was spinning his plan into history. Waiting in expectation is a part of his plan. Waiting is meant to establish our faith. We wait in hope that God will move in accordance with his unconditional love and faithfulness. We wait believing. When we doubt him, we ask for faith. Henri Nouwen calls it “Active waiting...Those who are waiting are waiting very actively. They know that what they are waiting for is growing from the ground on which they are standing.”

“I will come to give them rest...

I will lead them beside streams of water

on a level path where they will not stumble,

because I am Israel’s Father…”

Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon, Anna…all of them are recorded in Luke’s gospel as waiting for the promise of God to be fulfilled. They were looking, listening and seeking. They were active and alert. They were trusting.

God, in his perfect wisdom, calls us to let go of control and instead look to him. Not security, not family, not money, not a career, not a certain college acceptance, not our possessions, not our health. Instead to hope in God, our Father.

Even now, we wait for him. We hope in him.

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