Most of us find waiting awkward and frustrating. We don’t like it and lose our patience with it. We lose our patience particularly quickly in this day and age of technology that has pushed us into an “immediate” lifestyle and with “immediate”expectations. However, the quickest way to get where God wants you is to WAIT. Waiting is a theme throughout Scripture, but is particularly evident in the Christmas story.
The first step in recovery programs is “I admit I am powerless over alcohol (or drugs or gambling, or…..fill in the blank with almost anything).” Admitting powerlessness could be the biggest step you will ever take in your life. The admission of powerlessness is not popular. During a season of waiting, often nothing can be done and we feel powerless. What are you feeling powerless over at this season in your life?
INVITATION: God is fine with waiting. We aren’t. Join in the Bible study this week as we explore some of the stories of waiting as they relate to the coming birth of Jesus.
MONDAY: Luke 1:5-7: From these verses we see that Elizabeth and Zechariah were upright and obedient, yet they were barren. From all appearances, they would never have any children since they were “well along in years.” Somehow we think if we do all the “right” things and behave well, we will get what we want in life, or at least we think we deserve to get what we want in life. This can be especially true when our desire is fine and upstanding – – such as offspring. However, God’s agenda and ours, and God’s timing and ours, are not always the same. Is there something going on in your life you might need to ask for God’s insights and perspective about? Perhaps you might consider praying to be able to see as God sees, or for an increase in your trust and faith regarding this situation? Look for ways the Lord may reframe the situation for you in the upcoming days and weeks.
TUESDAY: Luke 1:20-23: Like Abraham and Sarah, Zechariah expressed doubt when God promised that a child would be born to him and his wife in their old age. As a result God silenced Zechariah until the child was born. Talk about waiting! What if you were to receive the most precious desire of your heart today? How would you respond? Can you imagine you might question God? Reflect on this today – and consider using art as well as words. Reflect on the times when you may have experienced periods of doubt, silence, waiting or a season of listening. Such spiritual stillness can be a prelude to something new in your life – as it was for Zechariah and Elizabeth.
WEDNESDAY: Luke 1:67-79: Many of our prayers tend to become “wish lists.” Zechariah’s prayer was full of acknowledgment of what God had done in the past and will do in the future. Zechariah not only waited for his own child, he had been waiting for the Messiah. He worshiped God using the special name “most High” and proclaimed God’s “tender mercy” even though he had spent so much time waiting. Try finishing these sentences during your time with God today: “God, I praise you because you have….” and “I look forward to the day when you will…” “O God, I am filled with awe and wonder that you…”
THURSDAY: Luke 2:22-38: Simeon was told he would not die until he saw the Messiah. He and the prophetess Anna had been waiting for God to rescue Jerusalem. In these verses there is an offering of doves and pigeons which is a sign of poverty. Imagine the elderly Simeon and Anna holding the infant Jesus and welcoming this young, poor family who offered doves and pigeons, yet realizing they were holding the promised Messiah. Simeon’s prayer identifying Jesus as “a light for revelations…and for glory” indicated how much he wanted to see God’s penetrating light and glory displayed on earth. We can guess Anna’s heart also ached to see the redemption of Israel – after all, they had been faithfully waiting for many years! What situations come to mind for you today that need to be penetrated by God’s light? Perhaps you can pray Simeon’s prayer about those items today, or write a prayer that you imagine Anna might have prayed at the temple that day when they realized they were in the presence of the Messiah. Just like Simeon and Anna, when we obey and are led by the Spirit, God gives divine moments. I’m sure Simeon had days of doubting, but he never gave up. He held to the seed God planted. What seeds are you holding on to today?
FRIDAY: 2 Peter 3:8-9: Yesterday we read how God prepared Simeon and Anna – whether they realized it or not. He is doing the same thing for you and for me. We typically believe WE are being patient, but these verses indicate God is being patient with us. Suppose you knew Jesus would return this year or in the next month or week. What difference would that make in your plans and priorities? What preparations would you make? Peter encourages us to “get on with it” in his Epistle.
SATURDAY: Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that this prayer/poem is included in the Advent readings for this week. It pertains to the “slow work of God” and having patient trust while we wait. Read this prayerfully and meditatively today and ask God to use it to speak into your life. If you wish to subscribe to the Advent devotionals, send an e-mail to: Laura@rockhills.com with the word “advent” as the subject line.
The Slow Work of God by Pierre Teilhard De Chardin
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability –
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually – let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on as though you could be today
what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.