Keeping Faith: What Are You Waiting For?8:45 AM
Who better to ask to guest post than my Mama? She writes over at Grace All Sufficient, sharing her wisdom and faith in many ways. Please make sure to visit her site.
A twenty-something star-crossed beauty, decked out with a scarf around her neck and sweater UGGS over her jeans, craning her neck for a sighting of her fiance. A busy 2 year old boy, blowing frosty impressions on the glass as he watches the planes, holding a sign "Welcome Grandma and Grandpa!" Parents anxiously checking their watches, then the arrival board, wondering aloud if their college student remembered to pack enough clothes for the 5 week break between semester. Soldiers in uniform, burying their heads in the shoulders of wives and babies and parents as spontaneous applause erupts around them.
Airports. I love airports, especially around Christmas. There is an excitement, a buzz of emotions that can't help but catch me and wrap me up as I join the throng of humanity in advent of homecoming. I usually end up shedding a tear or two as I happily wait to hug family that I haven't been able to touch in months, except through the virtual world of Facetime.
We enter the season of waiting. Waiting for packages to arrive from UPS or the Postal Service. Waiting for Christmas music 24/7. Waiting for A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph and Frosty and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town to be available on Netflix or aired on TV. We prepare grocery lists and menus. We decorate the house and wrap presents, all in preparation for The Big Day. Christmas.
Advent. The dictionary defines advent as "the coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important." But for something important to come, we must wait first. Waiting isn't always easy, and sometimes we don't know what we are waiting for. You may be waiting for a toddler to reach a developmental milestone or a teenager to pick up their room or a prodigal to come home. You may be waiting on a friend to forgive you or a husband to notice you. Maybe you wait for the overwhelming torrent of grief to be replaced by just a heartstring pull and sweet memories.
Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus waited, in Luke 11:1-43. I used to think of the story of Lazarus as mostly an account of resurrection.Which it is. But it is also a story about waiting. I love this account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It teaches us so much about our own humanity. I love the disciples. We see their human side.
When Jesus told the disciples that he was going back to Bethany, they immediately started trying to talk him out of it. "But Rabbi, a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?"
When Jesus tells them that Lazarus has fallen asleep, but He’s going back to wake him up, the disciples then think they'll give Jesus advice.
“Lord, if he sleeps, he’ll get better.”
Dear Thomas, who probably wasn’t the most naturally brave of them all says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Can’t you just see Thomas? Squaring his shoulders, sitting up straight and, realist that he was, determining already in his mind that Jesus was going to die if he went to see Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
And Jesus doesn’t just wait a day or two after Lazarus died. No, he waits 4 days after Lazarus died. What was He doing? God, what are you doing? Do you hear me? Don't you understand the situation? Why do I have to do this? How long do I have to WAIT?
We have Jesus who seems to have taken his time and arrived too late. We have disciples who are trying to give the Son of God advice and talk him out of his plans. We have sisters, dear friends of Jesus, who are grieving.
What does God teach us about waiting?
1) Waiting teaches us that God understands us and grieves with us even though He already knows the outcome. Jesus already knew that Lazarus was dead. Yet, when he came to Bethany and saw the sorrow of Mary and the others, he wept with them. God knows our frailty.
2) Waiting teaches us who is in control. It might seem sometimes like our circumstances are in control, or governments are in control, or any number of things (even our emotions!) but ultimately, the God of the Universe is the one in control. This is one of the foundations of my faith.I can trust a God who has an ultimate purpose for my life and that purpose is to conform me to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
What did Thomas do? He assumed the worst, didn’t he? He thought about the “What if?” and assumed that they would all die. How often do we get way ahead of God’s purposes and assume the worst? We need to wait expectantly for all of the amazing things God will do so that we can say, “God’s hand has surely done this!”
3) Waiting teaches us to go on with life. This is one of the hardest of life's lessons. Mary and Martha had to go on with life while they waited for Jesus to come. They had to go through the ritual of preparing their brother’s body and burying him. There was more to the grief than just that Jesus didn’t come “in time.” Jesus was a dear friend. They wanted to see him in person.
4) Waiting teaches us that God is purposeful in every thing He does, even when He seems to delay.
From the very beginning, Jesus stated His purpose: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Luke 11:4
When Martha and Mary both say, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died,” I used to think they were reproaching Jesus for not coming. However, read what Martha says next : “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Luke 11:21, 22 What an acknowledgement of who Jesus was and is!
Where are you today? Are you waiting on circumstances to change? Be encouraged! God knows, he empathizes with you, and he has a plan. Just as His plan for our salvation through the advent of Emmanuel carried through time, even before it was time. He spoke hope into the darkness, the void, the nothingness.
He is WITH YOU. Emmanuel. God WITH US.
It is for God's glory that God's Son may be glorified through it! Luke 11:4