Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting Patiently

"At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth...Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home."
Luke 1: 39-40, 56 NIV

Although inherently impatient and self-centered, preschoolers can learn patience especially when consistently demonstrated and defined simply. A wise veteran teacher defined it this way: patience is waiting with a smile. That means waiting without huffing and puffing, without complaining, no crossing the arms, or tapping the feet or rolling the eyes.

Sometimes we act like preschoolers, don't we? We line up, waiting for God's promise, for God's blessings to fall and the longer we wait, the more our impatience simmers. When results delay we presume waiting a waste of time until we step out of line and walk away hopeless.

Patient waiting is not passive waiting. Rather, it's living fully present, nurturing each moment like a mother nurtures her unborn child and believing that what God promised will manifest itself--in time (Henri Nouwen, Waiting For God, Watch For The Light, 2001 Orbis Books).

Mary and Elizabeth waited patiently but not passively. After Mary's encounter with the angel Gabriel, she hurried to her cousin Elizabeth's house not only to witness God's promise manifestated in Elizabeth, but to nurture hope and faith that what God promised her was, in fact, true.

Scripture doesn't tell us why Mary stayed for three months. The reasons may be held between the lines: protection (a pregnant, betrothed, Jewish girl would be stoned), physical preparation (helping Elizabeth prepare her home for John), spiritual preparation (studying the Prophets--both physically carried fulfillment of prophesies-- prayer, meditation). All of this demonstrates active waiting, not simply idle living.

How are you waiting on God's promise for your life? Do you demonstrate patient, active waiting? Are you alert to God's hand at work around you and in you? Are you full of hope or is impatience simmering just below the surface? Is there someone in your life who can encourage your heart as you wait--nurture each moment--help you wait patiently and fully alert?

Lord, teach us how to wait patiently--fully alert, fully alive, fully active in the moment. Keep our eyes, our ears atuned to your voice so when you lead, we may follow.

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