Patience is not about how long you wait, it’s about how well you behave while you are waiting.
Many who do come into the secret place, and who are God’s children, enter it and leave it just as they entered, without ever so much as realizing the presence of God. And there are some believers who, even when they do obtain a blessing, and get a little quickening of soul, leave the secret place without seeking more. They go to their chamber, and there get into the secret place, but then, as soon as they have got near to Him, they think they have been peculiarly blessed, and leave their chamber, and go back into the world… Oh, how is it that the Lord’s own people have so little perseverance? How is it that when they do enter into their place of prayer to be alone, they are so easily persuaded to be turned away empty; instead of wrestling with God to pour out His Spirit, they retire from the secret place without the answer, and submit to it as being God’s will.
The times we find ourselves having to wait on others may be the perfect opportunities to train ourselves to wait on the Lord.
Celebrating Advent means learning how to wait. Waiting is an art which our impatient age has forgotten. We want to pluck the fruit before it has had time to ripen. Greedy eyes are soon disappointed when what they saw as luscious fruit is sour to the taste. In disappointment and disgust they throw it away. The fruit, full of promise rots on the ground. It is rejected without thanks by disappointed hands. The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity.
Advent is set (in the northern hemisphere) in the season of the year when days get shorter and hours of darkness get longer. Hope is a reminder and a promise that even if we do not feel very hopeful, even if our life feels as dark as the long nights, even if we cannot see or imagine a way forward, we are not alone. God is with us, even if we can’t see or feel God. It is often at these times of greatest need, when we cannot see a way ahead, that we discover that God is with us, often unnoticed by us until we look back on that time. To live in the faith that even in the darkest times, God is there, closer even than our breath, is the hope at the heart of Christian faith and the hope we return to each Advent.
To wait openhandedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.
December 23, 2019
God doesn’t grow tired of hearing our petitions. We are the ones that grow tired of petitioning. Keep praying. God hasn’t stopped listening.
December 21, 2019
Sometimes it seems as though we spend our lives waiting. Daydreaming about an upcoming vacation, worrying over a medical test, preparing for the birth of grandchild-our days are filled with anticipation and anxiety over what the future holds. As Christians, we too spend our lives waiting. But we are waiting for something much bigger than a trip, bigger even than retirement or a wedding: We are waiting for the return of Jesus in glory. Advent heightens this sense of waiting, because it marks not only our anticipation of Jesus’ final coming, but also our remembrance of his arrival into our world more than 2,000 years ago.