Hard to wait Let’s pray…….. Rev. Stuart Buisch
So what’s the hardest thing to wait for just now? Give someone a hug, seeing a grandchild with your arms not your eyes? Sitting in a restaurant? What is it?
Both I Samuel’s account of Saul and Acts account of Peter and the disciples let us peak into the waiting game of others.
Samuel had given Saul clear instructions to prepare for his coming and then Samuel was late, the army was restless and some were scattering. It wasn’t looking good. OR was it?
What was the real test going on? Was the challenge that Samuel would make it on time or the challenge to a new leader checking out his faith in God. By the way, how long should we wait for God? Does the answer change based on the gravity of the situation? Most of us in the midst of a military conflict, even with no atheists in the foxholes, would want to get on with the battle and especially not want to lose troops waiting for a prophet/priest to show up.
Peter’s situation seems similar to me – keep in mind I might be very wrong. Acts 1 has some real ‘kum ba ya’ moments when the whole of the believers are gathering together, praying and sharing. Many of us have had moments like that in our life. Some of us guard those moments with our lives. But I see a Peter who is getting anxious about this waiting for power from God. The Psalms are familiar to him and the disciples perhaps from their times of prayer. Peter remembering those texts, or reminded by the Spirit, which seem to inform him that the hole in the 12 disciples needs to be filled. So instead of continuing in prayer, relaxing with the other disciples and sharing he gets a meeting going. Maybe he was Presbyterian before his time. No one stopped him and said, uh excuse me we are praying over here. No one said we are just about to break bread and share the cup, can you wait. Luke describes a scene of consensus. Names are put forward and lots are thrown and voila there is a new disciple/apostle-12 again.
We, of course, have the advantage of lots of hindsight. This newly chosen number 12 seems to disappear in the scriptures. That might not be a bad thing. Remember when you did that great quiet thing for your neighbor and no one knew. That bill you paid for so and so and no one ever found out. Lots of things go on in the kingdom of God that are seemingly totally unknown. Just like the journey of waiting. Much of the sweat of waiting, wondering, trying to believe, trying to keep going, not believing for a moment, repenting, and trying to believe again. Waiting can be pretty awful in its gritty details.
So let’s try and take a closer look. Luke makes a passing comment about Judas. Peter describes the need for the other disciple as “taking the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.”
Waiting has its own way, doesn’t it? Something gets in our heads and we do it because we think it is right. The challenge is determining when something is our way or is not our way. That which we are doing, did it come from God or from our own imagination? If Peter was filling the space for the glory of God well and good but if he couldn’t wait to have it all in order again maybe it had no purpose except to disclose his impatience.
A key part of our faith is waiting for the Lord. The Taize prayer chant goes, ‘wait for the Lord, whose day is near. Wait for the Lord, keep watch, take heart.’ Deep words with deeper reality. To the outside observer one can imagine that someone waiting for the Lord looks like they are doing nothing. In their soul the work could be most intense – dancing between belief and doubt. Looking to see if God is coming (in a prophet or flames of fire). To those brought to faith in Christ through Matthias his placement in the twelve is most full of meaning and yet the New Testament letters tell lots of stories of Paul, Barnabus and James the brother of Jesus to name a few. Could these have been number 12? Does it matter?
In waiting times prayer is a great gift. A gift to the prayer is the book of Psalms which describe so many feelings and experiences common to us all. So if you are serious about engaging in this hard to do thing – waiting for the Lord- following the pattern of Jews and Christians for centuries praying the Psalms, can facilitate a patience that looks and waits for God to do the thing God would accomplish.
In this covid19 season gathering is not possible without great restrictions. But there are so many things to do that strengthen waiting on God and encourage others and are a sort of active praying. When you chose so many of the various styles of communicating available today insert some word of hope that has touched you. You might be the voice in the wilderness of doubt as someone cycles back into belief.
We may not be worshiping in the pews at North or any other church from your experience. However, God is God and hears our prayers and praise wherever we are. There are reasons – probably different for each of us- to wait right now and be wise.
Someone has said before the brightest dawn comes the darkest night. In my reading and living seldom do folk elaborate on the darkness. Even less the darkness in a waiting time. The intensity of darkness and the great uncertainty can seem overwhelming. We are in a pandemic but we are not waiting alone, and we don’t need to hurry anything. Amen
Gracious God, let us sense your loving presence around us and those near….
Loving God, set us free to praise and trust you…..
God of Peace, fill our souls with your peace beyond our understanding…