Sunday, December 14, 2008

I'll be waiting

I'll be waiting
I may be young or old and gray
Counting the days
But I'll be waiting
And when I finally see your face
I'll run to meet you
(lyrics from "I'll Be Waiting/The Prodigal's Song by Amy Grant)

Last week at midweek service, Brother Timmy delivered a message that really spoke to me. Or, perhaps I should say that in the time I was in service with my heart and soul quieted, seeking for God's will and a bit of His wisdom, I heard some things that He spoke to me in that still small voice. (Brother Timmy, I apologize if it seemed I was distracted...your message was great...but I was hearing another voice too...I'm confident you'll understand and forgive me!)

In about twenty minutes, God placed some pretty powerful points upon my heart. In the middle of the hype and anticipation for Christmas, God showed me how this really does apply to my walk with Him, or how it should.

If you have children who can count, or at least who can make some approximation to counting, you know that children LOVE to countdown to big events. My daughter listed a countdown in her calendar a year ago that was over 180 days until she flew east to spend a couple of weeks with her grandmother. Each and every day, she checked off the date and knew she was getting close to something spectacular. She could not wait for the day to arrive when she would board the plane and fly 2000 miles to see her grandparents...alone.

We are currently in another countdown. Most of society is in a countdown, even if they do not align themselves with a religion. Everywhere we go right now there are signs telling us how many shopping days are left until Christmas.

In our home, we are counting down the days until our family will be altogether to celebrate Christmas (even though we will be doing this early this year). We've been known to count the days until payday. We've counted days until a vacation begins. We even counted down days until our baby arrived (which due to the unpredictable nature of babies was a little more challenging).

We count down to these events because they are exciting for us. We anticipate them happening because we know, or believe, that something wonderful is going to happen.

The Israelites were also given the opportunity to wait in anticipation for something wonderful. In Egypt, they waited for a deliverer while being bound as slaves.

When the deliverer came to them, they mocked him for his previous service under the Pharoah. He wasn't what they would have chosen for a deliverer. Moses wasn't their choice for the golden child. Yet God knew what He was doing. He set aside Moses to lead the people out of bondage and into the Promised Land.

The Israelites were given the opportunity to wait anxiously to go into the Promised Land. But the spies that they sent into Canaan decided to accept fear instead of a promise, and they wandered for 40 years. The original Israelites who were delivered from Egypt, all but one of them died before setting foot in the Promised Land.

The Israelites were repeatedly given opportunities to wait in anticipation, eager to see God bless them, deliver them, love them, take care of them. And they failed to see the blessing and wait with joy and excitement for what God was going to do for them.

In fact, they went so far as to miss the birth of the Messiah. The baby Jesus could not be the Messiah that was going to be sent to deliver the nation and restore Jerusalem. He was not an earthly king. He was a Nazarene, no less, and nothing good came from Nazareth. They missed the biggest blessing delivered to them although the signs were everywhere around them!

How do you miss the decree from a king to have all baby boys under the age of two murdered? Especially after the history in Egypt with the massacre of Israelite babies during the time of Moses, they should have known that this was a foreboding of something BIG. And what about a bright star that magically appeared in the sky? If this happened today, I could understand and suggest that maybe the lights from the city drowned out the light from the star. But these were times when there was no electricity, and the towns were much smaller. They studied the skies to determine the calendar for planting and reaping. They had no clocks. The sky was their clock and calendar. So how did they not question the appearance of a new bright star? And why were they not even more suspicious about this star when it aligned with the decree by Herod to have the babies killed?

And yet, for each reason I feel that they failed, I know that I am failing also.

In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks to his disciples. He tells them that there are going to be signs that may alarm them. He warns them that wars will break out, there will be famines and earthquakes. He tells them, He tells us, that these are the signs that the time is coming. He warns them about false prophets and a false Messiah. He tells them what to watch for, and to be ready.

And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear
in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. --Matthew 24:30 NLT

Are we ready? We know that Jesus is seated in Heaven and He is
waiting to return to the earth. His Second Coming is going to be glorious.
will we be ready? Are we counting the days and getting ready? Or, will
we be
like the Israelites and reject the truth and the blessing because it
doesn't fit
our schedule or our idea of how it should happen?

Is there a sign upon my heart declaring "X days until Jesus arrives!" ???

Father, you have told us that Jesus came to earth to save the lost. And we know that He will make his return soon. The signs that He gave us tell us that time is rapidly approaching. And yet, I fear that I spend less time getting ready for the second coming and rapture than I do for Christmas or summer vacation. How can I be so misled? Illuminate the wrongness of my spirit and let me fix my eyes upon a mark that I cannot put into temporal terms, but which should hold my complete attention. Help me put my efforts into preparing my heart, my household, my community for your glorious reappearing--better than any Christmas gift I could ever buy or wrap. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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