I don’t wait well. Wow, what a stupid and obvious way to begin an Advent blog post. Since I’ve begun this foray into a rather universal bugaboo and done so at that time of year when nothing fresh could possibly be said about the topic, I might as well carry on.
I am one who cannot abide rifts between friends, jagged edges in places where, with a little faith and work, the rough places could be made smooth; broken bridges to reunite two sides of a single stream.
I am told that I am particularly good at defusing conflict. What these same people are too polite to mention, however, is that I’m equally good at creating it. Be that as it may, I apparently have a gift for big picture thinking, peaceful words toward potentially peaceable outcomes.
Ironically (tragically, if you ask me), those who are called peacemakers generally hate conflict more than any others. Hence, the very gifts with which we’re saddled are just that, burdens to be borne more than wings upon which to fly through the mêlée.
I run at the first sign of even a hint of conflict. When they come, I am more unsettled than anyone but, when the time is ripe, the field of battle well-lit and ready, and the stands full of naysayers and side-takers, I will enter the fray, weak in the knees and, with dry mouth, stutter words of “now, imagine how this might be better.”
I’ve had a reasonable rate of success at this. But what about those times of waiting in which no amount of resourcefulness, faith, seeking, pain or bag-‘o-tricks seems enough? When does one say that to wait is no longer a reasonable option? When do we finally reach the point of no return? The statute of limitations on someone’s good promises? The place where it appears waiting was a bad idea to begin with?
Meet a battle-weary, time-scarred, now largely apathetic Israel who only say they’re waiting for the “coming Messiah.” After such a long absence, why bother arousing hope in that which perhaps was a cosmic ruse to begin with? God’s just playin’ around, testing our mettle. Like me, their best approaches, clearest study, best thinking, most robust faith…are for naught. To wait anymore is, well, just a waste of the necessary energy required to just get along.
This was the environment into which “in the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son.” It’s always the environment that God’s Son is most forthcoming. When we can no longer take credit for our astonishing acts of faithful waiting, God comes.
I hate waiting. God loves that because the Gospel of grace, the ultimate peacemaking enterprise, was, is and always will be God’s gig.
Let this Advent be a time of giving up futile fights and endlessly moribund conflicts. Submit to God’s higher waiting; that which is dependent not on our patient endurance, but on God’s perfect track record at keeping promises.