Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Easter: Waiting is not a Passive State
The disciples waited. They saw Jesus, met with Him - albeit on His terms - just as they had done before the crucifixion. They went fishing. Jesus met them on the beach with a fish breakfast cooked and waiting. As John Eldredge noted in "Beautiful Outlaw", there must have been a twinkle in His eye as He casually suggests dropping the net on the other side of the boat - for a record catch. He restores Peter, helping the man recognise his own limits which allowed him to become the mighty Apostle whose first actions after Pentecost include a sermon that saw thousands accept Jesus as their Saviour and a cripple walk and dance into the Temple.
But he waited.
After the ascension - more on that nearer the remembrance of the day itself - Jesus told the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit. They waited for Him between the Victory of Easter Day and Ascension Day. But they were hardly passive.
They met daily. They prayed together. They celebrated what we now call "Holy Communion", but they called "Dinner" together.
Jesus pitched up and sat with them. One of His first statements was not "Thomas... For your doubt I'm dissolving the hair on the front of your head." Rather He said (Paraphrase here) "Guys! Feed a brother please. I'd love some fish!"
The normality of Jesus after the Victory is incredible, but the way He just waits is what is truly fascinating.
He waits to ascend and sit at God's Right Hand so He can chill out with His friends and finish telling them the last details they'll need after the Holy Spirit hits them. He waits for Thomas to be with the disciples the second time he pops in for dinner so He can share the joke of the New Life and Victory over Death with all of them.
I believe He was heartbroken about Judas Iscariot. Scripture doesn't mention it explicitly, but He had walked with this man for several years, spent time with him, shared His life with him. Offered him everything. Even washed his feet knowing, perhaps hoping he wouldn't, that he was about to be handed over to the Jews by him.
He let him choose.
Peter rejected and denied Christ. Judas rejected and denied Christ.
Peter waited and was reinstated. Judas allowed his self-pity to consume him and committed suicide.
Where do we stand?
Waiting is hard. It means doing things we may not want to do. It may mean doing things we didn't expect to ever have to do.
I currently am staying in my mother's home. My wife has been seriously ill, and my mum has had cancer since the beginning of this year. In December our business was closed by a fire marshall because of an unscrupulous landlord. I ask God what to do and He replies "Wait".
But He never said "Sit and do nothing". I put my hand to things and He Blesses them, but still I'm waiting.
My wife would not have been able to be supported by me the way I've been able to support her if I'd hurried to be busy. My mum would have been having to fend for herself with still healing wounds from surgery.
Instead my work while waiting has been to cook, clean, sort. Pray. Write.
I try to make waiting an act of worship. Some days that's easier than others.
Some days my impatient nature gets the better of me.
But I take comfort in the story of King David, who was not known for his smart decisions in the heat of the moment - just ask Uriah and Bathsheba. Peter's restoration comforts me. Mr Swordsman himself is restored after running away in the heat of the moment. He doesn't point fingers and compare himself with the ones who didn't go to the fire. He simply weeps and accepts forgiveness after he waits for Jesus.
None of the waiting in the Bible is passive.
Moses didn't set up camp in one place for 40 years. They followed the cloud and fire. Before that, he waded into the Red Sea before God parted it - but his wading was still a form of waiting. If he'd stood on the shore the Israelites would have been massacred.
Elisha waited for Elijah to be taken up to Heaven. Elijah waited for the rain.
These men were not passive.
Paul waited for God to give a direction - but kept moving in the one he was headed in until the new orders came.
Waiting is not passive.
We need to remember that. Our lives depend on it.
But wait. Sometimes it's just a case of the road being laid for you to walk on.