But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
I must admit that I am not the most patient person I know. I think it’s safe to assume that, really, few of us are. The world just moves too fast. The patient ones, the ones who wait, tend to get left behind. And yet, those of us of us who are always on the move don’t really get there any sooner. What is that about? And then we read this passage that describes God as patient. Have you ever thought of the Divine, the Holy, the Creator, the One who is always and forever on the move, compelling us to go forward, to live into this glorious Vision that God has, as “patient.” I suppose the impatient ones of us want God to get this show on the road, already. After all, where IS peace? Where IS righteousness? Where IS this promise of no poverty, no hunger, no suffering? But wait, it doesn’t say that God is sitting back on the holy laurels and being slow about things happening. God is not slow to fill the world with glory; God is waiting for us, patiently waiting for us, to catch up.
So perhaps our impatience, our living life full-throttle, without stopping, just stopping to see what God is doing, to hear where God is calling, is what is slowing this whole thing down. After all, God knows where God is going. God is waiting for us, waiting for our response, waiting for us to perhaps wait to see, wait to hear. Oh, shoot! It’s back to that waiting thing. We CAN’T hurry this along. We CAN’T live for the next thing. We CAN’T live as if we are in a season that is not quite yet. God is waiting for us to stop, to wait on God, so that we can catch up to what God envisions us to be. It’s back to the Sabbath ideal. God created times for us to stop, to wait, to let ourselves sort of regroup so that we could move forward down the way we are called to go.
You’ve heard the story of the American traveler on safari in Kenya. He was loaded down with maps, and timetables, and travel agendas. Porters from a local tribe were carrying his cumbersome supplies, luggage, and “essential stuff.” On the first morning, everyone awoke early and traveled fast and went far into the bush. On the second morning, they all woke very early and traveled very fast and went very far into the bush. On the third morning, they all woke very early and traveled very fast and went even farther into the bush. The American seemed pleased. But on the fourth morning, the porters refused to move. They simply sat by a tree. Their behavior incensed the impatient American. “This is a waste of valuable time. Can someone tell me what is going on here?” The translator answered, “They are waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.”
This Advent time is a time of waiting for God. But it is also a time when God waits on us–patiently and lovingly waits for us to awake to God’s Presence, awake to God’s beckoning, awake to finally see where we were meant to be all along. We cannot do that if we are too busy impatiently moving through life, always reaching and grasping for the next thing and missing that God is waiting for us now. If we would be a little more patient, if we could just for a moment stop and breathe in that Holy Patience of God, perhaps God would no longer have to wait another day or another thousand years for the promises to come to be.
Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only [they] who see, take off [their] shoes—The rest sit round it and pluck blueberries. (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from “Aurora Leigh”)
FOR TODAY: Stop moving so fast. Be patient. Look. Listen. Take off your shoes and be. God is waiting.
Grace and Peace,