“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous’” (Genesis 17:1-2).
“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).
“As they were watching, Jesus was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9b-11).
Abraham’s wife Sarah was over 90. They had waited their entire lives for a child. Now God promised one, and they had to wait some more.
In Luke’s Gospel, we know that after Jesus arrives in Jerusalem come the horrors of the cross. Luke tells us he’s headed there in chapter 9, but then we have to go through 12 more chapters before he finally arrives.
The scene in Acts is the Ascension. The white-robed angels promise Jesus will return in the same way he was taken up. That was 33AD. It is now 2018AD.
As I write this, I am waiting for Easter. Preachers always endure a thematic adjustment from February to early April. Preaching during Lent is unlike preaching at any other time.
As I write this on a Monday, I am waiting for Saturday. I am scheduled to fly to Ethiopia for a week with some wonderful children. I will spend this week waiting for Saturday to arrive.
As I wait, I am waiting for a package in the mail that will have my passport in it. As a part of our trip prep, we had to submit our passports to the embassy. I can’t get on the plane without it. Now I am waiting for it to return. This may be the most nervous of all the waiting. It is certainly the most immediate.
For what are you waiting? While waiting, how will you sit in the time? We Americans “pass the time.” Or, being the consumers that we are, we “spend the time.” I don’t think God wants that for me or for anyone.
Read Luke chapter 10-21. There is a lot that happens in that stretch from knowing the cross is coming to it actually arriving. Jesus tells the most re-told of all his parables, the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) and the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), in those intervening chapters. Much of what we think about in the Gospel falls in Luke 10-21. We may be going along waiting, but in that waiting space, God is working. Read the Abraham narratives in Genesis 12-22. A lot happens between God’s initial promise and the arrival of Isaac.
I am tempted to think, well, this mission trip is some big thing. And it is indeed some big thing. However, God might also have some things to do before the mission trip.
Easter, now that’s important preaching. Sure. But God isn’t waiting for Easter to speak into my life and possibly through me into someone else’s life.
What in your life has you waiting? Waiting isn’t easy. It can be excruciating. But it can also be a space in life for God to work. Don’t “pass” the time. Don’t “spend” the time. Sit in the time. Sit and listen. When we do that, we hear what God is trying to tell us.