The Courageous Wait

22 03 2010

You have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy, you have set my feet in a broad place.

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Psalm 31:8 & 24 (ESV)

Waiting in an in-between place is no easy thing.  Jesus of Nazareth, by His passion, death, resurrection and ascension, has deposed the prince of darkness (who had usurped the throne over our world), cancelled out sin’s power, and struck down death by His death.  Part of the reason we travel through the dim light of Lent is to be reminded how captive we all were—how desperate our situation really was.  Then we can see rightly how glorious is the bright good news of Good Friday and Resurrection morn’.  We rightly celebrate!  But taking Lent seriously also reminds us that while a great victory has been won, our battles are not over.  While sin’s hold has been broken and we are forgiven, we must still choose daily against sin and for God.  While Satan’s doom is sealed, he is still about his vile work and his malice towards us as bearers of God’s image knows no bounds.  And while death is undone, our bodies still expire and cause great grief, even for the redeemed.  The Kingdom IS here now, in power; but it does not yet hold complete sway.  We wait for the return of the King.

We are like the throng at Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (what we call Palm Sunday) who had hoped the true King would sweep away all the problems of Israel in one swift motion.  Little did they understand how the ultimate Triumph could only be achieved by taking the Way of the Cross and the road to Golgotha.

Waiting.  Our culture has turned waiting into any empty and annoying exercise:  traffic, the doctor’s office, the fast-food drive-thru.  The actions of those around us teach us that “waiting” in an inherently passive experience.  We listen to the radio, thumb an old magazine, surf the net on our i-phone, text our friends about how board we are.  In these waiting times I have, on occasion, attempted to be pious by  praying or reading scripture.  But my undisciplined mind and heart have always found such work to be too hard—I just keep praying the same things over and over because I am constantly distracted.  So I turn to less taxing and more passive activities.  But the Biblical picture of “waiting” is very much the polar opposite to our culture’s understanding.  Waiting on the Lord requires strength and courage.

This is so because waiting for Jesus requires action—the full involvement of heart, mind, body and soul.  Christ’s accomplished work has set us free to be united with Him and bestowed upon us the authority to carry out His mission—to labor for the freedom of others that they may also know the joy of the Lord’s fellowship and mission.  We all know that waiting is much easier when our hands are busy.  And there is more than enough to keep us active:  loving others, fighting the good fight, declaring God’s praise, vanquishing sin from our hearts, teaching others how to obey Christ’s commands (as but a few examples!).

Our hearts ache to see the Kingdom come in all its fullness.   This is good because it keeps us from falling too much in love with temporal things.  But we, but I, must not allow the longing for what is to come prevent me from laboring at the tasks assigned to me in the waiting.  And while I work I can pray, “Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus, come!”

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