I appreciated what Julie Rafferty wrote in her blog about this time last year: I think it would be accurate to say that most of life is lived and experienced in the in-between… In a fast-paced consumer-driven economy and society, it is no wonder that many of us are impatient and struggle with waiting. We have two-day shipping, fast food, email, social media, texts and phone calls – things that seem to make life available on-demand and instantly. Still, there is so much of life that is out of our control and anything but on-demand. So many have remarked how they have encountered the Holy Spirit in times of agony, distress and pain. Yet, I have even more found God in the waiting. Psalm 27:14 famously tells us,
“Wait for the Lord,
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”
I hate waiting, but she’s right. God shows up in the waiting—the white spaces of life. The time I treat as wasted time turns out to be the most important moments in life. It is when I surrender to the waiting that God’s Spirit has me in the right place, even if the waiting is for a few moments here and there during the day. I know that and yet still struggle with the waiting, impatiently whipping my phone out to engage in the latest distraction.
I know what it is like to be confined as I wait for healing from the many elbow surgeries, but I don’t know what it is like to wait behind the bars of a jail cell. Dietrich Bonhoeffer did, yet wrote this to his dear friend Eberhard Bethge from Tegel Prison on November 21, 1943:
Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent: one waits, hopes, does this, that, or the other—things that are really of no consequence—the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.
I wait patiently for God to save me; I depend on him alone. He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated… I depend on God alone; I put my hope in him. He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated. My salvation and honor depend on God; he is my strong protector; he is my shelter. Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge.
Isaiah 25:1, 8-9
O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things;Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth… He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”
Our carol this week is Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus:
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
Hope to see you Sunday…until then…
May God touch you as you wait with an open heart this week.