Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Effort of (Actively) Waiting

How do we wait for God? We wait with patience. But patience does not mean passivity. Waiting patiently is not like waiting for the bus to come, the rain to stop, or the sun to rise. It is an active waiting in which we live the present moment to the full in order to find there the signs of the One we are waiting for.
The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means "to suffer." Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants. Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God's glorious coming.
- Henri Nouwen

   We spent Thanksgiving in Statesboro this year. It was the first time in a while, as my parents moved back there this summer after living in Macon for over a decade. It was good to have a few days to travel down old roads, visit places I remembered from years ago, and even do some things we did as a kids. One of those Hagan traditions, that we lived out this weekend, was Georgia Southern football at Paulson Stadium. 
   The boys and I stood alongside the field this past Saturday, in the final ten minutes before the game would start, watching both teams. I was reminded of a truth of Advent and the Christian life watching the players as they waited: they exert a great deal of energy before the game had even started. For an athlete, waiting for game-time is an active event. Stretching, running, clapping, listening and talking, none of this is done sitting down or resting.
   Like Nouwen says in this devotion, waiting on the return of Christ, which is the other half of Advent, is not intended to be entirely passive. It often requires effort. It takes effort to pay attention to our spirit and attitude. Forgiving others and ourselves is strenuous. Planting seeds through encouragement takes time and energy. 
   This is my prayer: May every single one of us spend these days of waiting and anticipating the Coming of Christ at Christmas actively engaged in the work of God: loving, forgiving, praying, listening, stretching our minds, and welcoming God's Spirit to move. Lord, let it be. Amen.

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