Thursday, November 10, 2011

enlarged in the waiting

I've copied an old post below.  I found it today on accident, but I'm so glad I did.  The words I wrote during that very difficult season help me rehearse all of the ways God has been Emmanuel to us this past two years.  We have, indeed, been delivered time and again from uncertainty to certainty.  From displacement to place.  From scarcity to sustenance.  I'm reminded too that while we live in this already-but-not-yet world advent is always with us.  Waiting is always with us.  Each crossing out of Egypt into promised land, brings new life and new expecting.  New need.  New hope.  New longing.  

My sister tells a story about her five-year-old son.  Not long ago, Kaley chose to make an exception to the norm and allow him to eat cookies even though he had not eaten all of his dinner.  Like any good mama she used the moment to teach, "Griffin, do you know what this is called, when you are given something you didn't really deserve?  It's grace."  Griffin enjoyed every last crumb of the cookie, turned his gorgeous blue eyes up to his mother and said sweetly, "More grace please!"

We live from grace to grace in this life.  The space in between is the waiting and it always feels like we're not going to make it.  In the excerpt below Eugene Peterson says "we are enlarged in the waiting".  Yes and yes.  We are made larger in our fortitude, but also in our expectation.  We long for more, hope for more.  We've tasted of the goodness of grace as we wait we can't help but ask more grace please.

photo credit: Craig Shields (thank you!)

From December 2009:  

We are expecting.

But not the kind you think.  Those days are done, but they were glorious and exhausting and unforgettable.

The kind of expecting I mean is the waiting and longing and travailing for something that is glorious and exhausting and thrilling and painful and unknown but familiar all at the same time. 

And, really, what better time than Advent to wait for a birth? 

This morning I sat with our Advent book.  I read Luci Shaw's essay for Third Sunday Of Advent.  Then I read it again.  Then I called Brian into the living room and read it to him in the middle of his banging around to make me a fire and getting up and down to make us tea.  I waited until he settled in with the dog on the couch so he could really hear the words because I suspected they were intended for him this morning.

"Anticipation lifts the heart. Desire is created to be fulfilled - perhaps not all at once, more likely in slow stages. Isaiah uttered his prophetic words about the renewal of the natural Creation into a wilderness of spiritual barrenness and thirst. For him, and for many other Old Testament seers, the vacuum of dry indifference into which he spoke was not yet a place of fulfillment. Yet the promise of God through this human mouthpiece (and the word "promise" always holds a kind of certainty) was verdant with hope, a kind of greenness and glory. A softening of hard-heartedness, a lively expectation, would herald the coming of Messiah. And once again, in this season of Advent, the same promise for the same Anointed One is coming closer."
Without naming the darkness, I knew as I read these words out loud that both of us were fighting whispers of cynical and despairing demonry.  Our cozy scene of crackling fire and steaming mugs of tea in a quiet house on a quiet day off is a phony, Kinkadian snapshot to our true tumultuous internal scene.  In defiance to the unseen, I kept reading.
"Just as in Lent, the season of watchful waiting and preparation for Jesus' dying and the great transformation of his rising, so in Advent, we wait for his coming down to be with us once again. The word Lent is derived from the Middle English lente, meaning "Spring," and in French "lent" means slow. In winter it seems that the season of Spring will never come, and in both Lent and Advent it's the waiting that's hard, the in-between of divine promise and its fulfillment, like a leap across a ditch after take-off and before landing. Most of us find ourselves dangling in this hiatus, which is the interval may seem a waste of time."
Harumph...dangling in mid-leap.  How about clawing by our bare fingernails after being pushed off a cliff?  Seems more like it to me. Again with the inner tormenty whispers.  Again with the intrepid reading.
"Paul gives us an astonishing understanding of waiting in the New Testament book of Romans, as rendered by Eugene Peterson, "Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the  more joyful our expectancy." With such motivation, we can wait as we sense God is indeed with us, and at work within us, as he was with Mary as the child within her grew."
Linking today with Emily :

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