God…works for those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4
…in accordance with his promise,
we wait for new heavens and a new earth,
where righteousness is at home
while you are waiting for these things
strive to be found by him
at peace. 2 Peter 3:13,14
You are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait
for the revealing
of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:7
As we begin the pilgrimage, entering once more onto the pathway of the church year, the invitation is to wait, to be expectant: God is coming to us; wait!
Now I don't know about you, but I don't always like to wait. Waiting in itself is not something our fast-paced technology fosters, rather we are schooled to expect instant response, instant information, instant transaction. Have it now!
Thus as pilgrims on this holy path of kingdom reality we are going to experience a cultural shock.
Part of the shock is that we are not primarily waiting for results or information—although God does bring both. Rather, we are waiting for God.
This is a spiritual discipline in itself: turning to God when we are in the middle of life and all that is happening (within us and without!). Our attention and focus can be kidnapped. Peter knew all about this. Out of his own experience of not being able to stay loyal to Jesus and to stay in place and wait throughout the suffering, crucifixion, absence, and resurrection he learns where his most basic love is. He gives us a word of spiritual guidance: "You therefore, beloved, …beware that you are not carried away with the lawless and lose your own stability" (2 Peter 3:17).
The ancient spiritual discipline of the Consciousness Examen can help us here. This is not an exam with a failing grade leaving us with a guilty conscience! Rather this prayer form invites us to pay attention to God's presence in our experience of the day. This is a spiritual discipline designed for pilgrims in action on the road. Gradually we became aware that God is present. God has come, and is with us.
Invite the Holy Spirit to help you see your day as God does. For what are you thankful? For what are you least thankful?
Notice those times when you turned to God, opened your attention to God. This is the movement of faith—turning Godward in the midst of whatever is going on within us or around us.
There are many times when I discover that I am being kidnapped, "carried away…and lose [my] own own stability". As I become aware of feeling unstable, fearful, angry, or overzealous, I realize my need for help, for God. And so I turn to God, cry out to Jesus.
It is precisely here that waiting is important: waiting for God to come. Here we need to pay attention, to live with the disease of whatever is happening, to notice God and how God comes. As we stay alert (Mark 13:33,35,37), God comes to shepherd us, to bring us good news, healing, release (Isaiah 61:1-4). God is at work as we wait—within the perplexities of our own local world and ministry, and within the larger groaning and pain of the whole world.
Wendy J. Miller
Eastern Mennonite Seminary
Harrisonburg, VA 22812
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