I’m in a season of waiting – and I HATE waiting. Perhaps you are like me and patience is not one of those life skills that come naturally. If I am completely forthright and honest, patience does not often come to me, even with sincere and dedicated effort. I’m pretty well adjusted to my own time frame and often expect the world to fashion itself around my needs.
No doubt we live in a world of instant gratification which only perpetuates my innate tendency to go, go, go. Both food and information are readily available to most of us at nearly any hour of any day. Our consumer-driven and capitalist culture have built institutions meeting the impromptu and perhaps erratic “needs” we encounter in everyday life. Yet this season of waiting has challenged me to the core, altogether different from the on-demand world around me.
What’s the wait? An unknown number of days until the birth of my first child, a son; I have never waited like this before. This season of waiting I cannot hurry along, despite all my efforts. I’m walking every chance I can, eating pineapple and spicy foods, as well as drinking herbal tea with cayenne; yet, the medical staff and my sweet mother continue to tell me he will come in his own time. There is nothing to hurry along and nothing to be done. Only to wait. And wait with hope.
For Christians, in this life, we live in a strange season of waiting. Somewhere between the now and the not-yet coming of Christ’s Kingdom, our hearts are still broken at the injustices that prevail: atrocities born of power abuse and the de-humanization of lives exist around the world and just across the street. My heart burns with passion when these narratives unfold, both in our community and on the newsstand; and with great urgency, I want to scream from the pulpit and on the street corner the greatest of rally cries: “Do Something!” and “Be the Change You Want to See!”
Yet, this pregnancy has taught me a great deal about waiting. Yes, friends, we who profess faith in the Risen Lord are to live the incarnation, being the hands and feet of Christ to the world, to work for justice and peace; but only after waiting and prayer. James Fenhagen writes: “Christian ministry is more than doing good. Ministry is an act of service performed either consciously or unconsciously in the name of Christ. Ministry is Jesus Christ expressing his life through us. It is born, therefore, not in activity, but in solitude, where through the spirit we experience the power of life from within.”
Prayer and actions are inseparable. Before we act, we must sit in the stillness of prayer, open our hearts to the Spirit and be confronted by God’s loving claim upon us. We cannot rely on our own initiative, no matter how well-intended or good-hearted. We must trust God’s hand at work, sit still in God’s presence and finally act, serve and go, only to participate in what God has already initiated in us and in the world.
This child inside of me will come at his own pace, in his own time. I can only wait with hope, knowing that I am participating in a new life God is bringing into the world. May we as the church commit to stillness and prayer alongside our rally cries as the Spirit moves to bring new Kingdom Life into our here-and-now.