As signs of autumn begin here in the northern hemisphere, we are reminded of the passing of time in that unique way a season change brings us. Nights are cooler and the days are devoid of the humidity that drenched us in recent weeks. Sunshine still warms us and only here or there has a leaf revealed its stunning fall hue to remind us of the “big show” soon to follow where crimson, scarlet, orange, and yellow will be abundant.
It can be hard to believe that autumn has arrived. When the pandemic arrived in force earlier this year, we entered a season of waiting for it to pass or end. Spring came and went without the usual highlights of things we typically enjoyed so we waited for summer. But as the last days of summer began to ebb away with some improvement for a few of us, we were aware that much of a classic summer was absent. Many items of clothing stayed tucked in our closets or drawers because most of our time was still spent at home.
We know that we need to deal with waiting often and none of us likely would say we enjoy it. The pandemic has given us a new awareness of waiting.
This week as I was reading in The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg, I paused as I read these words of hers:
“…waiting is part of our stories – all of our stories. Adam and Eve waited, fresh fruit staining their faces, for God to discover what they had done. Noah waited for the first few delicate raindrops to pitter-patter on his odd-shaped boat. Abram waited for a promised son, Jacob waited for a promised wife, and the Israelites waited for a promised new life.”Margaret Feinberg in The Sacred Echo
How accurate she is in this statement. Even though we have read or know these stories of waiting, it can be easy to forget in the midst of our own times of waiting.
It can seem as if we are at a standstill when we are waiting. You know what I mean – that sense you have when you are sitting at a stop light going nowhere while you wait for the light to change so you can move. And yet time is moving us forward moment by moment into the future even if we are not aware of it, even while we are waiting.
No matter what our waiting season, life seeps in and moves along. The story we entered at birth was happening when we arrived and continues when we wait and when we exit this earthly life.
Margaret Feinberg reminds her readers in The Sacred Echo of what she describes as “two types of waiting.” There is the “personal wait” such as those noted above, but there is another wait that she calls “The Great Wait.” Look at her grand description of this:
“The first is The Great Wait – that moment when the trumpet will sound and the Jesus who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey will return on a white horse. Like townspeople in an ancient city, we wait for the return of our King who will bring with him redemption, restoration, and reward. We will celebrate wildly at the wedding of the ages – that great feast in the banquet hall of heaven that God has been preparing since the beginning of time.”Margaret Feinberg in The Sacred Echo
What it can be harder to remember is that God is waiting too and waiting with us. Can we possibly fathom how eager He is to have us all together around that table?
If our gaze remains focused on what surrounds us, holding fast to what we see, we will miss the glorious unseen that is more real than what we can touch, hear, taste, and see now.
So often we measure our life in milestones. These are significant markers along the way that represent accomplishments of some kind, but as we grow in wisdom and years, we come to recognize what we most often hold dear are the moments etched in our memories on days not appearing in special frames or other memorabilia.
How important it is in the midst of waiting – whether for a “personal wait” or “The Great Wait” – not to miss the moments in the middle.
One of our grandsons commented this week that during 2020 it seems like death has been chasing us. His observation came from not only the stories of the pandemic but also of the deaths of several people in his life from non- pandemic causes. For these ones, the “personal waiting” is over. Their perspective is quite different from our own. They enter eternity and all the mysteries it holds and yet they still wait “The Great Wait” and that glorious trumpet sound and wedding feast to come.
Maybe one thing is especially central for each of us in whatever waiting season we experience – what will we do in the waiting? What will we do with the moments that have been gifted to us?
Eugene Peterson offers one possibility for us to consider: