By Diana Bridges
This psalm is an ideal reading for St. Patrick’s Day. It speaks of wanderers and prisoners in need of deliverance. Patrick certainly falls into those categories. Born in Britain, he was kidnapped as a young man and forced into slavery in Ireland. By the time he’d been a slave for more than ten years, he had come to faith in Christ. Delivered miraculously from slavery, he returned home, only to realize later that he felt called to return to the land of his captivity.
A big part of Patrick’s story—and this psalm—is the deliverance of God. However, in Patrick’s case, deliverance was by no means immediate. He tended sheep for a decade, and during that time his new faith was able to deepen and grow strong. Like Patrick, we spend a lot of time in life waiting for deliverance—maybe for genuine rescue or perhaps for new opportunities or a greater sense of community. While waiting for the thing we want so much, we would do well to consider what God is doing in and through us in the meantime.
Time in isolation prepared Patrick for a life of service in his adopted homeland, much as Moses’ time in the wilderness prepared him to lead his people. What’s usually true about waiting is that when you’re in the middle of it, you have no way of knowing how long it might last and without the benefit of hindsight, you can’t always be sure whether you’re preparing for the call of God to take your skills and the gospel to a new location or whether you’re preparing to be an even more faithful shepherd of sheep where you are. Either way, God is present and at work—in your life and all around you.
By Randy Edwards
The passage we have just read encourages us to do something we instinctively do not like to do. Simply stated, we vehemently do not want to do what it asks us to do!
It asks us to wait.
It asks us … to wait.
It asks us … to … wait.
It … asks … us … to … … … … wait. Wait.
Let’s have a show of hands here: who really enjoys waiting for something we really want or need? Do we enjoy waiting and waiting and waiting to open birthday presents or Christmas gifts? Don’t we just love sitting around for days or weeks waiting to hear what the MRI indicates, or waiting to hear what our doctor is going to say? How about learning to save some money for the future rather than spending it all at once on something really awesome?
“Slow as Christmas” was a saying we tossed around as a child and teenager, because waiting to open Christmas gifts, particularly those already wrapped and under the tree, was very difficult to do.
Perhaps the hardest part about waiting is that we feel out of control. Being dependent upon someone else to move, to get with it, to provide what we want – it’s the fact that we are not in control that bothers us the most!
We’ve all heard it said that good things come to those who wait. Those of us who have lived long enough know that this is true.
But let’s not make the mistake of thinking there’s nothing we can do while we wait. What can we do? There are several creative things we can do in the wait.
We can hope. We can turn our eyes toward the coming Savior and place all our hope in Jesus; after all, that’s where it should be.
We can pray. We can cast all our cares upon God, because scripture assures us that God cares for us. We can pray for one another with the full hope that God will take care of us in God’s own time.
We can watch. Jesus referred to this many time – seeking the hand of God, straining to hear the voice of God, longing to feel the touch of God.
May our waiting be rich. May our finding be profound. May our living be celebration.
I was summoned. In church life you’re called, but to civic duty you‘re summoned. Jury duty. I had never been ‘summoned’ before. But, I was ready to represent myself as a responsible citizen, ready to participate in the justice system by casting a vote on a jury. Okay, so my expectations may have been heightened by John Grisham novels, but I was excited to participate in the grand saga of the justice system.
Arriving at the Bexar County Courthouse at 8 A.M., I turned the corner to walk into the central jury room and was confronted with a large mass of humanity. Probably more people than were at the last San Antonio Talons game (if you don’t know who the Talons are that only proves my point). There must have been 500 people crammed in awaiting their day’s destiny.
You could see people rehearsing their excuses. Why they are not fit or able to serve as a juror. Why the world is unable to continue on with them caught here in judicial purgatory.
It’s more about the wait than anything else. Time seems to stand still as if the clock somehow blurred into eternity. Frederick Buechner wrote, “If you spin a pinwheel fast enough, then all its colors blend into a single color–white–which is the essence of all the colors of the spectrum combined. If you spin time fast enough, then time-past, time-present, and time-to-come all blend into a single timelessness or eternity, which is the essence of all times combined.”
There are moments in life where we stand outside of time and see the world through God’s eternal eyes. These tend to be the big moments in our lives- the birth of a child, the death of someone close to us, marriage, graduation, baptism.
Jury Duty is not one of these times. It’s more like being crushed by that pinwheel of time. Yet, under the boot of that eternity there are things to see and learn. After all, that’s where many of us live our lives- in a liminal space awaiting an outcome. It’s the place from which the prophets of the Old Testament call to us. Prophets like Habakkuk, Isaiah, and Amos were waiting on a word from the Lord. They were waiting for God to act.
How much of our lives are spent waiting on God? 2 of the 5 major liturgical season focus on waiting and preparation (Advent and Lent). Waiting is a spiritual discipline. We wish it weren’t. But, it is. You might even say it’s a posture of prayer. ‘I waited patiently for the LORD, he inclined and heard my cry’ says Psalm 40.
This doesn’t mean waiting isn’t active. Sure, wait patiently. But, wait with expectations. Nudge God through prayer. Nudge yourself to step up to hope. Nudge God again and, like the pushy woman at the juror room window asking for a lunch break. Like the prophets of old. Nudge God and you may begin to feel the divine nudge assuring you your hopes are not unfounded. There is an end in sight because the judge has called you by name. Thanks for your service. Your going home.