Monday, November 19, 2012

What are we waiting for?

I was recently given a very insightful excerpt by Henri Nouwen about waiting. With Advent coming up, I thought now was the perfect time so share! But essentially, we all go through times of personal advent throughout our lives besides during the month of December. And in yet another way, our life is one big Advent, waiting for the 2nd coming of Jesus. So I guess any time is a good time to be reminded of these truths about waiting...
Here's the excerpt:
Waiting For God by Henri Nouwen
 
Waiting is not a very popular attitude. Waiting is not something that people think about with great sympathy. In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and wait!” For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. They want to get out of it by doing something…

It impresses me, therefore, that all the figures who appear in the first pages of Luke’s Gospel are waiting. Elizabeth and Zechariah are waiting. Mary is waiting. Simeon and Anna, who were there at the temple when Jesus was brought in, are waiting. The whole opening of the good news is filled with waiting people. And right at the beginning all those people in someway or another hear the words, “Do not be afraid. I have something good to say to you.” These words set the tone and the context. Now Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary, Simeon and Anna are waiting for something new and good to happen to them…

Waiting, as we see it in the people on the first pages of the Gospel, is waiting with a sense of promise. “Zechariah,…your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son.” “Mary,…Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son” (Luke 1:13, 31). People who wait have received a promise that allows them to wait. They have received something that is at work in them, like a seed that has started to grow. This is very important. We can only really wait if what we are waiting for has already begun for us. So waiting is never a movement from nothing to something. It is always a movement from something to something more. Zechariah, Mary, and Elizabeth were living with a promise that nurtured them, that fed them, and that made them able to stay where they were…

Second, waiting is active. Most of us think of waiting as something very passive, a hopeless state determined by events totally out of our hands…But there is none of this passivity in scripture. Those who are waiting are waiting very actively. They know that what they are waiting for is growing from the ground on which they are standing…Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it…

Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is awaiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.Waiting for God is an active, alert - yes, joyful -waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.

Nouwen's encouragement for active waiting reminds me of Jer. 29:4-14 . The Lord tells His people to not just passively wait around while they are in exile to be brought back to the Promised Land. He tells them to get active! Build houses. Settle down. Plant gardens. Have children. Seek prosperity. Pray for this place!

I think the Lord wants us all to do the same things while we wait for His return. Our world is very broken and life is tough. Until Christ's return, in many ways, it will only continue to get tougher. But we have the greatest promise from God that we can always cling to. As Nouwen says, this Promise can nurture us, feed us, and make us able to stay where we are!

So as you go into the December Advent for Christmas, as you go through your personal advent, and as you wait for the 2nd coming Jesus, may you actively wait (one way could be by praying at HOME! :) and rejoice in the faithfulness of our God that you can cling to His promises and confidently trust Him that they will come true!

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