Thursday, December 07, 2006

Waiting in Faith

Last year, my husband and I found a great Advent book. It is a collection of writings by many spiritual authors. This morning I was reading Henri Nouwen, who is one of my all time favorites. He was writing about waiting, and how we don't know how to wait. There is more than one reason for this. We think our time must be occupied, that we must be productive. We are afraid; he notes that many innovations in war techniques happen while waiting in fear.

Waiting in faith is not a fear filled experience. Zachariah and Elizabeth were waiting. Zachariah was visited by an angel who announced that John would be born. Mary was waiting when the angel Gabriel announced she would bear Jesus. They were waiting in faith, in hope, not fear.

I had the privilege of visiting a saint in the hospital this week. When the doctor and nurse asked how he was doing, he sounded perfectly calm as he confessed "well, I'm nervous, but other than that I feel ok." He commented to me that of course he was ready to go if it was his time, but he does enjoy this life. I asked about how he came to be a part of this church family. He talked about how he had been away from the church for a long time, but that he finally returned when he was going through a particularly difficult time in life. He thought that if perhaps he become "good" again by going to church, perhaps God would get him out if his situation. Then he said something profound: "God did not take away the hardship. I found that I learned how to live through it." What a testimony to faith, and to waiting.

This is a person with strong faith, because he has waited out many a storm, and discovered God in the midst of the good times and the hard times.

This Advent, I hope God teaches me more about waiting. Advent is, after all, a season which literally means "coming." It is by definition about watching and waiting. I don't want to be distracted, overscheduled, fearful, or otherwise occupied. I want to be open, watchful, and wide eyed to be able to see what God is doing. Come Lord Jesus.