If you know what it is to wait a long time for something of someone, raise your hand. No surprise is it, to find that waiting is the common experience of us all. How do you feel about that? Do you wait with expectation, fear, patience or hope? Depends on what we are waiting for, doesn’t’ it? Every day we plan to go to work, or not, something or someone to arrive or go. Then suddenly plans are put on hold by a knock at the door… Name your particular interruption in conversation and almost immediately someone will say ‘that’s happened to me; I was going to…..’ and the story unfolds of waiting with many a hmm, yes and ……
So where does this get us today? Well, press the waiting button and we have a direct link to our readings through to Abraham. Let me tell you, he knew what it was to wait. God told him, promised him in fact, that his descendants would be as numerous as stars in the sky. And Abraham believed in God’s promise all his life, yet he only saw one son!
Now God never goes back on a promise yes sometimes it seems to hand on a thread. God doesn’t always keep his promises in the most obvious way, or when we want. They would become too cheap, too ordinary, and too explainable if he did. He looks to us for persevering faith, not an easy believism. But keep his promises he does, in his own way and time. Of course, we could argue that the pace of life was slower in Abraham’s time than ours is now, but I can’t believe waiting was any easier. How then to wait? Easy answer is, do something. But what?
Let me ask you a question. Do you pray regularly, daily for family, friends, are you able to encourage them in a Christian way of life? It has often been said that the Gospel is only one generation away from extinction! If we don’t pray and work that the next generation will hear God’s Good News, who will? And I don’t mean praying in flowery language or formal prayers from a prayer book, but speaking from your heart in the common tongue as Christ did when he spoke to people. We need to persevere in prayer and WAIT.
As believers we are not exempt from troubles – literal and figurative – we are human! We face various types of storms. Those that are Circumstantial: like bereavement, financial challenges, disappointments, sickness, and accidents. Or Relational: broken relationships, fallouts with our children, family difficulties and complexities. Last but not least, Spiritual: attack by the Devil, tribulation and tests of faith. You name it and we all have our own stories. So when life unexpectedly throws demands, uncertainty or chaos in your path, do you put your trust in God, despite what’s happening, or do you find yourself so caught up you lose sight of God?
As once was said: ‘the purpose of faith isn’t always to keep us from having trouble, it is often to carry us through trouble.’ And waiting has its part to play. It gives us a chance to look and think about our faith.
As any ocean-going sailor knows that without anchor you are in serious trouble. Even in normal conditions you would have to constantly power your vessel to keep it away from rocks and other hazards; when the storm hits, without an anchor, no vessel could remain safe indefinitely. In Hebrews 6:19 we are reminded that the Gospel we are living by saves us by anchoring us into a reality that can never be shaken. As an old hymn has it, our hope is ‘fastened to the rock with cannot move; grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!’ (I was going to sing that but decided to leave it to you.)
Our hope is firm and secure because it enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain that is the Holy of Holies. In the Old Testament tabernacle this was the place where the priest brought the offering for sin into the very presence of God. Standing behind that image though it is a greater reality – that through his death on the cross, Jesus himself entered the real Holy of Holies in heaven. Offering himself as the perfect sacrifice in order to provide perfect forgiveness for us. Always remember that when storms might hit us in life nothing is weightier, stronger or more certain than that. For every new sin we have committed or might commit, a perfect price has been paid. Our destiny is therefore secure; we will be in the Father’s presence one day, forgiven and free to experience the life we were designed to enjoy.
My final words today are from Psalm 27:1, 13-14. As king David said ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and WAIT for the Lord.’
24th February 2013 – 2nd Sunday in Lent