Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Active Waiting

The waiting is the hardest part. – Tom Petty

We are not a culture that embraces waiting. Five-minute oatmeal is not fast enough for us. Most of us would rather do something than to be still, even as we complain of having too much to do! And if we are still, it is often to watch someone else do something by watching sports or other entertainment.

Tom Petty is right – the waiting is the hardest part. But in this season of Advent, we are called to wait, and wait, and wait some more. Most of us ignore this call, choosing instead to rush from store to store and event to event. We eat too much, shop too much and spend too much money. We reject the message of Advent to wait and watch.

In the Common English Bible, Psalm 37:3 says: Trust in the Lord and do good; live in the land, and farm faithfulness. Farm faithfulness – it’s an interesting choice of words, one that offers a good example of how to actively wait.

There is waiting inherent in farming but it is not a complacent waiting. The farmer plants seeds and then waits for them to grow, but soil must be cultivated, plants must be thinned, and the growing plants must be cared for if they are to bear fruit. Our spiritual lives benefit from this sort of active waiting.

Fruitful active waiting can only happen by our attention and intention. We have to push back the temptation of our culture, especially in this season, to only be consumers – of products, food and activity. If we are to farm faithfulness, we will have to wait. But we are given a great gift if we will choose to wait. Our active, faithful waiting produces in us the fruit of patience. This superfruit combats anxiety and overconsumption and promotes trust and peace.

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