December 9, 2014

We Wait

Time was full, ready to give birth.

A promise had been given and many had whispered of it afterward when they walked along the road and when they tucked their children in at night and when the world groaned with labor pains.

“Through your Seed all the nations shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)

There were years and there were signs of pregnancy: examples and types, heralds and spokesmen, lone voices.

Foreshadowing.

And waiting. Waiting upon waiting. For some, too long waiting on seemingly empty promises.

Habakkuk, one lone voice among the waiting, cried out in the night: “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2)
Violence, plundering, strife, and iniquity prevailed. Perverse judgment proceeded. The waiting people were suffering. How long, O Lord?

God called to mind the original promise. “Look among the nations and watch--be utterly astonished! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.” (Habakkuk 1:5)

And then there was silence. Physical eyes saw the continued rise of strife and struggle. Of evil.

The people were waiting, the whispered promise almost forgotten.

But God.

He was silent, but He was working, knitting in the womb of time.

His hands upended the world map, raising first the Babylonians to conquer and scatter God’s people, who in turn built synagogues in far-flung outposts. Then the Greeks rose to center-stage, bringing with them a love for words and ideas and creating a common world language. Finally, the Romans appeared, conquered the known world, building roads and throwing open borders.

Outpost synagogues where people gather to hear news and ideas? In a language all can understand? Brought by messengers through open borders and able roads?

“For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

The womb of time grew heavy under God’s steady hand.

“When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son . . .” (Galatians 4:4)

The womb of time burst open. Silence gave way to the Word. The cries from lone voices of long ago rang with truth, and their prophetic utterances fell in quick succession--born of a virgin, a son of Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling clothes.

The angels sang. The wise men sought. Mary pondered. And then . . .

He was hidden because Herod was hunting.

Silence.

Waiting.

Time seemed pregnant again.

Finally, a lone voice broke the decades-old silence, proclaiming to anyone who would listen that the kingdom of God was at hand.

The water turned to wine. The fish and loaves multiplied. And The Word started speaking, but His words were so . . . unexpected. The crowds pressed in on Him, trying to knit Him according to their desires. He fled them, knowing their expectations and that time was premature.

John, in prison, sent men to Jesus with one question: “Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3)

Violence, plundering, strife, and iniquity prevailed. Perverse judgment proceeded. The waiting people were suffering. How long, O Lord?

But God was knitting in the womb of time. The labor pains grew increasingly intense; those who had eyes to see and ears to hear followed them closely. Jesus vocalized what was to be birthed-- “I have come that you might have life.”--and the means by which God would do so.

Death.

The crowds gathered, waving palm branches over their expectations, but soon after turned away, having misunderstood the whispered promise.

“For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

There would be no earthly kingship. There would be no toppling of Roman rule.

There would only be death.

Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?

Silence and grief. Waiting and helplessness. Scattering and sorrow.

But Jesus.

He labored unto death, tore the veil from top to bottom, and rebuilt the temple in three days.

The angels announced. Women ran to tell. The Holy Spirit fell. And then . . .

Time became pregnant again.

A whispered promise. “I will come again and receive you to Myself.” (John 14:3)

Waiting. We are a people waiting.

The world has filled up again with darkness. Violence, plundering, strife, and iniquity prevail. Perverse judgment proceeds. People are suffering.

How long, O Lord?

“For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

And God labors, bringing forth the fullness of time, when time will give way to eternity.

Until then, we wait in perpetual Advent, with eyes open to see and ears cocked to hear.

The labor pains are increasing, reminding of us His words: “Surely I am coming quickly.” (Revelation 22:20)

The waiting people, whispering the promise to our children, say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”