Many of our young people including family members are waiting at this time of year for exam results. Sarah my niece is waiting for 'A' levels towards the midwifery place she has been offered.
Children find waiting hard- whether birthdays, Christmas or holidays. The inevitable “Are we there yet” accompanies many a holiday journey.
For adults there is inevitable waiting- at the fuel pump and supermarket; for a blood test
or Fracture Clinic appointment at St. Mary's. More difficult is when we are waiting on results of tests and scans to get a diagnosis.
Farmers and Growers too are people who have to wait to see what kind of harvest there will be, and this year has been a difficult one with rain and flooding; One vineyard on the Island will have no grapes because there were no flowers. Though, strangely, God has brought along a Nun, living in a caravan on this particular vineyard- and no doubt praying for the owner and his staff.
James writes: “See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.
Old and New testaments
There are well-known examples of people waiting in the Bible:
From the Old Testament, Naomi advised the younger woman Ruth:
“Wait my daughter until you find out what will happen- whether Boaz would be willing to act as kinsman-redeemer by marrying Ruth and providing for her. Because he did, David was born, and eventually through this line came Jesus.
In the New Testament we have the lovely parable of the Prodigal Son and the image of the Father waiting for him to tire of feeding the pigs, to come to his senses and return home. And when he does, the Father sees him a long way off and runs to meet him- a lovely image of how God greets his returning children.
Jesus told his disciples to wait until they were clothed with power from on high- the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
And Paul writes at length about Christians waiting for the return of Jesus Christ and their behaviour in light of this event.
Even Creation itself waits in eager anticipation for the sons (children) of God to be revealed- when creation will itself be liberated in the new freedom of the coming kingdom.
From childhood to adulthood, from Old Testament to New Testament, from now until eternity we are people who have to wait.
How easy is it for us to wait and what may we as Christians have to wait for.?
Our Psalm this evening Ps 130 speaks of our souls waiting for the Lord, “as watchmen wait for the morning”
I have never had a job where I have worked night shifts; my only experience of waiting for the morning was when my brother-in-law was involved in Car Rallying and my sister, a friend and I would help out with marshalling the time controls. So we could be found somewhere down on Dartmoor or the edge of Exmoor and as the hours passed by
you could see the sun begin to rise in the east and know the night was almost over- and it was time to get to a hotel for the most wonderful cooked breakfast and the results of the night's competition.
In the Bible certain occupations involved night-watchmen- shepherding, vineyards at harvest time when a watch-tower would be erected; and at times of military hostility when watchmen would be posted on the walls.
How relieved the shepherd, the grower or the soldier would be to see that first glimpse of light in the east to know that night was over and day coming.
The Psalmist says my soul waits for God, like the watchman waits for the morning.
.. exhort us to wait in hope Ps 33:20
.. to wait patiently Ps 37
.. to be strong and take heart..
.. to be confident that God will bless in the land of the living; that he will enable us to make that spiritual progress we desire- to possess the land in His name.
.. to wait for God's salvation..
We cannot hurry the hand of God.
As His children he teaches us discipline and patience and that often comes through waiting, especially in the area of answered prayer.
! wait for you O Lord; you will answer me O Lord my God Ps 38:15
“Morning by morning O Lord, you hear my voice; morning by morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation”. Ps 5:3
When hoping is difficult:
My soul faints with longing for your salvation; my eyes fail looking for your promise. When will you comfort me? How long must your servant wait? Ps 119: 81-84
The Psalms are incredibly honest- not just about the joy of praising God alone and with his people at the great Temple festivals; but the depths of waiting for prayer to be answered and the need to faithfully keep on praying- not because it changes the mind of God, but because we are changed in the process and learn to align ourselves with His will.
So we pray, as Jesus taught us “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”- this is always a prayer that is guaranteed to be answered. In fact God does answer all prayer- sometimes yes; sometimes no; sometimes “Not now/ not yet”
This poem expresses some of the challenges about trying to understand how God works:
Lord, grant me the maturity to embrace mystery
The faith to receive the irreconcilable
The strength to live with paradox
The wisdom to walk with unknowing
To be fully human
To relinquish the ego that needs to know,
To understand, that seeks to be a god.
Help me to walk in the ways of your kingdom
Where earthly values are inverted ~
The poor become rich, the meek inherit
The humble are raised up, and death equals life
So empower me by your Spirit
To live the way of the cross.