Walking while waiting

Christmas snuck up on me this year. With Thanksgiving being so late, a visit with the grandparents in the middle of the month, and working up to Christmas Eve, the holiday has arrived and my heart feels rushed and unprepared. So, on Sunday, as the final day of Advent drew to a close, I spent some time reading the story of Jesus’ birth from the gospels of Matthew and Luke. I was struck anew by the stories of waiting that surrounded this greatest day in history. Waiting is what Advent is all about – the hope of the coming Savior, the preparation for His arrival, the joy of His birth, and the love He showed in coming to earth.

Advent [noun]:

  • A coming into place, view, or being; arrival
  • The coming of Christ into the world
  • The period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ
  • Middle English; Latin – Adventus; arrival, approach
  • Beginning or arrival of something anticipated

Beginning or arrival of something anticipated. Can you feel the excitement in the air? Imagine! The promise of a Savior…followed by 400 years of silence. An entire nation, waiting for the promised Messiah, anticipating the salvation and redemption He would bring.

As I read, these other examples stood out to me as well:

*Zacharias and Elizabeth get married, and then they wait for a baby. And they wait. And wait. And pray. And wait, until Elizabeth is long past child-bearing age and all hope seems lost forever.

*Zacharias is rendered mute, and has to wait at least 9 months before being able to share what God had spoken through the Angel Gabriel.

*Simeon is given a promise that he will not see death until his eyes have seen the Messiah. Old age begins setting in, and still no Messiah is appearing.

*Jesus himself waited 30 years to begin his public ministry.

Do you know what the Bible says about Zacharias, Elizabeth, and Simeon in the midst of their waiting? Luke 1:6 says that Zacharias and Elizabeth were “both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” And Luke 2:25 says that Simeon was “righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”

Here are four thoughts from their example of walking faithfully with the Lord while waiting:

1. God’s sovereignty is sure, and His timing is perfect. At the exact appointed time, Elizabeth conceived John, Zacharias got to tell everyone about the glory and goodness of the Lord, Israel’s promised Messiah came, Simeon witnessed the dedication of Jesus, and Jesus began his public ministry. Not a day too early or too late, but exactly on the day each event was supposed to happen. Psalm 139:16 says “In your book were written ALL the days of my life before one of them came to be.” God is the one in control, and He brings all things to pass in His good timing and perfect plan.

2. Waiting is not painless, but the result makes it worth walking through the dark days. Imagine 400 years of silence from God. Or going through an entire pregnancy and birth with a husband who could not respond to you. Or waiting years upon years for a child until hope seems lost. Or getting older and wondering each day if you would finally see the promised Messiah. Or preparing for a public ministry knowing that it is going to end with your death and resurrection three short years later.

3. Obedience is not contingent upon God’s response. Zacharias, Elizabeth, and Simeon were all described as being faithful to follow God, even when they did not always know if or when an answer would come. Jesus was the only one who knew the end from the beginning. The others chose to trust God and walk in faithfulness each day regardless of what the outcome was. Again, their obedience was not contingent upon God’s response to them, but rather on the knowledge of who He is and their trust that He would fulfill His word (for more, check out Heb 10:23 and 2 Tim 2:13).

4. We can trust God with our future in the midst of waiting. Back to Psalm 139:16. He already knows every day of our future. He has gone before us, laying the way and offering to lead us on the path as our Light and Guide. Proverbs 3:5-6 calls us to trust in Him, lean not on our own understanding, and He will direct our paths. Psalm 119 is full of verses where David exalts the Lord as righteous and true, and declares the Word of God as trustworthy and and worth leaning our full weight upon.

What are you waiting for today? A baby, like Elizabeth? A new job? A spouse? Healing from an illness or chronic pain? An apology that never seems to arrive? The redemption of a friend or family member? An answer to a hard question? Direction on where you are supposed to go next? The return of Jesus and the making of all things new?

Whatever you are waiting for, I pray that you will be encouraged by this to continue trusting the Lord and walking faithfully with Him, no matter what may come. As you read the Christmas story, rejoice that the silence was broken, the Savior came, and through Him we have hope and salvation! See it with fresh perspective, and be reminded of God’s faithfulness, sovereignty, and perfect timing.

Merry Christmas, and may the peace of Jesus Christ be with you as you celebrate His birth.

Worship

Happy sunday, dear friends! I was introduced to this song by my friends who said hello and goodbye to their precious daughter in the same day. You can read their story over here. It is a story of courage, steadfast faith, and gospel love. Just a warning though: you will need tissues.

I invite you to take 10 minutes and worship our creator through this song by Hillsong United, called Oceans. May it encourage you and give you strength to face whatever this day and week may bring.

faith.

George Müller, on answered prayer, after being asked if the Lord had always been faithful to His promises:

‘Always’, replied Müller, ‘He has never failed me! For nearly 70 years every need in connection with this work has been supplied. The orphans from the first until now, have numbered nine thousand five hundred, but they have never wanted a meal. Never! Hundreds of times we have commenced the day without a penny in hand, but our Heavenly Father has sent supplies by the moment they were actually required. There never was a time when there was no unwholesome meal. During all these years I have been enabled to trust in God, the living God, and in Him alone. One million four hundred thousand pounds have been sent to me in answer to prayer We have wanted as much as fifty thousand pounds in one year, and it has all come by the time it has been really needed.’ (emphasis mine)

Müller was born in Germany, and moved to England as a missionary in the early-1800’s. He started out his ministry as a church planter and pastor, but after seeing a desperate need for good orphan care he shifted his focus to starting homes for children. For over 50 years he ran an orphanage that consisted by the end of 5 houses that cared for over 1,200 children (at one time!) from birth-17 years old. He revolutionized orphan care in the nation of England, and by the time of his death the entire system had been transformed, largely because of his efforts.

In addition to the orphanage, his church supported missionaries all over the world, including Hudson Taylor in China! He started the Scripture Knowledge Institute that trained hundreds of men in theology and teaching, and spent the last twenty years of his life traveling over 200,000 miles around the world sharing the gospel to thousands upon thousands of people.

All of this work was accomplished by bringing his needs before the Lord only. He founded his organization on the conviction and belief that God would answer when asked. That blows my mind. As I read his biography (Delighted in God by Roger Steer), I was/still am a bit at war in my heart on what I thought about that. One cannot deny that God clearly provided for Müller, and that his approach brought God much glory. But I alos have wondered if they would have seen God provide even more, had they simply asked and made their needs known. There is a balance, I think, between trusting God to provide without ever speaking, and trusting God to use your voice in drawing others closer to Himself as they give.

Sometimes I have doubts that God is really big enough to provide, but reading about the life of this man has given me renewed faith in God’s provision. So often I have a limited view of the omnipotent God. I start to worry, but then am reminded that I am the finite one, He the infinite. I have limitations, He is the owner of everything we can and cannot see. I am broken and flawed, He is perfect and Holy. I can only see one minute at a time, He sees every moment at once. I only know what I need moment by moment, He knows all of my needs and exactly how He is going to provide!