Wait on the Lord: What To Do While Waiting
Wait on the Lord is our theme this Advent season. Advent, the four weeks before Christmas, is the season of waiting.
But, aren’t we thankful the San Jose Fire Department didn’t wait Tuesday evening, but rushed to the fire, saved our church building, and rescued most of the inhabitants. We grieve for the one who didn’t make it. But, the Fire Department is to be commended for the quick, efficient response. One firefighter was positioned on the church roof with a power saw, ready to saw a hole in the roof for a water hose, when the captain noticed him, and stopped him just in time! I’m glad the captain waited to see if the church building was on fire before cutting a hole in the roof, and flooding the sanctuary with water!
There is a time to hurry, and there is a time to wait! Advent teaches us to wait. We wait for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We wait for the coming of the splendor and glory of God’s kingdom.
Americans aren’t good at waiting! We need to learn how to wait because most of us don’t know how to wait. We don’t like to wait. Our culture is “wait-less”. We want instant gratification, we want our candy now, we want the internet to be instantaneous, we don’t want to wait in front of a screen, we don’t like to wait in lines. We are impatient.
Japanese people are known for patience. I tried to learn patience when I was in Japan. On one school train trip, I anxiously waited to see Mt. Fuji. I had yet to see Fujiyama, but, it was rainy that day as well. I fussed and fumed in good American fashion, “Why is it raining today? Out of all the days to be rainy, why today?” I fussed on and on until one student told me in half Japanese, half English, “Sensei, the rain does not come from the ground up. It comes from the sky and we can’t do anything about it!” He put me in my place-- politely, courteously, but I got the message!
When I was there umpteen years ago, I saw Japanese people wait patiently at bus stops, subway stops, and train platforms. They stand quietly, courteously, patiently until the doors open. Then, watch out. It’s every girl for herself! If you don’t want to move, you are moved involuntarily by the crowd. They even hire attendants to stand at the door and push passengers in so the doors will shut. I was thankful for my height. Even though I was squashed, I could breathe! So much for Japanese patience! However, once they are squashed inside, they revert to patient, courteous waiting!
Advent can teach us to wait, but how do we wait? What do we do while waiting?
Hear again the Scripture Lesson, Romans13.11-14, but this time from The Message, by Eugene Peterson, “But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!”
There at least three suggestions in this passage about what to do while waiting.
1. “Don’t get absorbed in daily obligations and doze off, oblivious to God.” In other words, keep in touch with God. We spend a great deal of time waiting in traffic, waiting in lines—grocery lines, bank lines, DMV lines. Some folks are impatient and stew and fret. Others take advantage of the wait time to talk on the phone, or text message, listen to music in their earphones, read magazines. How about settling down, relaxing, and praying while waiting in line? We can pray with our eyes open and our lips sealed. Focus on Jesus. Pray for others. Try praying for the others in line. Picture them surrounded by the light of God, say “Jesus”. Commend them to Jesus’ care. You don’t need to know them. You don’t need words. The word “Jesus” is enough. What to do while waiting for Christmas? Pray, meditate.
2. What to do while waiting? “Dress yourselves in Christ.” What does Jesus wear? Compassion, kindness, mercy, patience. Before you go to bed at night, or when you get up in the morning, you decide what you’re going to wear. “What shall I wear today?” you ask. Decide what you NEED to wear. What is the schedule? Whom are you going to meet? Is there something you're not looking forward to? Are you waiting for news, a word from a friend or loved one? Is work difficult? Is there a decision you must make? Are you unsure? Confused? What might you wear to help you get through the day? Confidence? Faith? Patience? Power?
3. What to do while waiting? Do God’s work. Paul wrote, “We can’t afford to waste a minute…Get out of bed…Don’t loiter and linger…be up and about.” We are waiting for a new pastor July 1. We wait, but we can’t stop. Ministry goes on. The church doesn’t hibernate. Yesterday, we had a Planning Meeting to make plans for 2008. The theme for 2008 is “From Spectator to Disciple.” We hold that as a goal for every member of the church. Move from being a spectator on the sidelines to full participation as a disciple of Jesus. 60 people, meeting in committees yesterday, designed ministries for 2008.
Advent teaches us to wait. We wait to celebrate Christmas. We wait for the coming of the splendor and glory of God’s kingdom. What to do while waiting? Pray, do God’s work, dress yourselves in Christ.
© 2007 Douglas I. Norris