These 40 days of Lent are a different type of waiting than the anticipatory excitement of Advent. Advent is the eager expectation of new birth; Lent is more like waiting for our offspring to show some of the potential that we know is within them. Lenten waiting is hard waiting, waiting that requires patience, faith, and steadfastness.
Look at Abram. “The Lord said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then the Lord said to Abram, “So shall your descendants be.” And Abram believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteous.” Really? After all those years of being childless and presuming that a slave child would be his heir, Abram was still waiting, still faith-filled enough to believe in the Lord.
The Psalmists words are equally convicted: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Steadfast waiting is a characteristic of being a follower of God.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians continues with these words: “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.” “This way” is the way to remain resolute in the reality of what Paul calls “the body of our humiliation.”
Even in Luke’s gospel there is a sense of resolute waiting. “You will not see me until the time comes…”
How does such waiting relate to sharing the gospel story? Perhaps it suggests to us that a rush to outcomes is not always helpful evangelism. Perhaps such waiting points us toward the larger, yet-to-be-completed work of God. Perhaps it reminds us that no matter our effort, God is still the primary actor in the universe. Perhaps such waiting encourages us to do the hard work of repentance, reflection, and relinquishment to God.
What are you waiting for during this season of Lent? How is your waiting full of longing, characterized by faith and patience? May you remain steadfast in your waiting, until the time comes….
Songs & Hymns
- Nada te turbe — Jacquest Berthier (Taizé)
- How firm a foundation
- We walk by faith — Mary Haugen (GIA, 1984)
The Chase by Eugene F. Roop, from “Heard in Our Land: Prayers of Life,” faithquest, Elgin, IL, 1991
God, we chase your path to the future,
Hoping not to lose the way:
Down interstate highway,
And through dark alleys;
In quiet woods,
And up noisy streets;
In public meetings,
And behind closed doors;
At the desk,
And on the beach;
In the traffic,
And on the bed;
At the stove,
And behind the mower.
Sometimes the chase seems endless,
Even fruitless, God
Until a baby arrives
Or an old man rests;
Until a flower blooms
Or an idea dawns;
Until a body is healed
Or a soul calmed;
Until a weapon is tossed aside
And a new way found.
Give us strength to walk on,
And patience with those who tire.
Free us to celebrate even a moment’s joy,
And be gentle even with ourselves.
We pray in the name of the patient one from Nazareth
Who tirelessly walks before us,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.