This word – waiting – has appeared in the scripture reading the past few days. The word brought to mind a memory from my childhood when I was told to wait until my dad got home. That instruction almost always had to do with something I had done that day that displeased my mother. I knew that my dad would be home in time for dinner, so I would wait. While I waited I went through a range of thoughts and emotions: how unfair my mother was being; how didn’t deserve this; how I should just run away from home and then they would see I didn’t need them anymore; how I got myself into this predicament and how I could avoid ever being in this spot again; how my dad would respond and whether I would cry. My dad never spanked me, but I can still see the look of disappointment on his face when he came home and discovered the reason I was waiting for him. He would tell me that I was not who I could be. I was acting like other people and I was better than that. I would be ashamed, because deep down I knew he was right. I would resolve to be and to do better – and in that moment I really meant it. But as a child, it was hard to be a repentant sinner. It was easier to be a sinner and wait for the consequences – if I was caught.
My childhood experience keeps coming to mind as I read Isaiah’s warnings to the people. Destruction is now inevitable. God will allow one foreign power to be the instrument of judgment and then that power will be destroyed by another. And for the people hearing the words of Isaiah, their lives would end. But just when it seems God had given up on the people God had chosen, Isaiah announces a Messiah who will bring about a new way and a new world order. The listeners of Isaiah’s message (that includes us) are invited to hang on to a hope greater than themselves, that they will never see in their lifetimes but will be for their descendants. Wait for that. Wait for the coming Messiah.
I have the opportunity to be waiting for something greater than me, greater than my life so that even beyond my life I will rest in what’s eternal. I can wait for God’s plan and purpose to be fulfilled. And even if the final culmination of this new world order does not happen in my lifetime, I can be part of this new way. Waiting is not passive but active.
In Hebrews 9:28 – Jesus who is the Messiah will come again “to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Isaiah 12:2 – “Surely it is God who saves me. I will trust in him and not be afraid.”
Just as my childhood experience of waiting for my dad to come home became a time for me to assess my life and prepare for what only my dad could give me (a call to be more than I was because he was confident that I could be), my life is an active waiting for Jesus to come. I don’t sit and watch the clock. I live in anticipate of his arrive, living more fully into what I discover it means to be part of his family and prepare the way for those who will come after me.
Today’s readings: Isaiah 11-14; Hebrews 9