Sermon For Sunday March 25th 2018
Waiting. Waiting for God to answer, waiting for a resolution, waiting for something you want- waiting is hard. It can be lonely, and empty, to keep being patient yet still always wondering when an answer is coming. Waiting doesn’t feed you the way work, and activity in the world, does- it’s like running up the stairs rather than waiting for the elevator even if you know the stairs will take forever.
But there is a secret in waiting. There is a way out of those feelings that can make waiting so difficult. The catch is, the way out isn’t in what you’re waiting for. The value in waiting isn’t in the answer you think you’re looking for, or the thing you’re praying for. Waiting, stillness, acknowledgement, the present moment- it is within these things where God is trying to communicate with you.
I think everyone has gone through a time when they’ve just been waiting for a breakthrough. Be it a relationship, a job, a health issue, something has gotten us in a place where all our usual skills fail us. All of our strengths, our insights and talents, can’t make sense of what is going on.
But even beyond the waiting, which is hard enough to deal with, have you ever gotten something you were waiting for, that you thought was the answer, only to still feel like you’re waiting? The resolution you thought would fix things, in fact, didn’t. There may have been temporary relief, but that little something in the back of your mind is still so present. And there you are again, waiting. You keep fooling yourself into thinking it’s the next ‘thing’ you’re waiting for that will be the resolution yet, in your heart, you know it’s finding peace in the waiting, in where you are, that holds the grace and peace you’re really looking for.
This plays itself out in so many ways. I think of the stories about people who win the lottery, and totally self destruct. They lose the money, the people they love, who they were and could have been. They wind up wishing they had never won. For those of us still wishing it were us who had won, this seems absolutely crazy! But it makes total sense. You are taking someone who did not have peace, a faith that prepared them for some great challenge, and giving them a huge responsibility. Imagine being given a black belt and thrown into a ring with someone who earned their black belt. You would have no chance against a person who learned to live on the path, rather than the destination. Don’t wish for something before you are prepared to receive it. Read that again.
You can also see these principles with people who attain great success, but were very grounded before their success, as compared to those who have the same success with little preparation. The former may not be changed much by the success, but still be guided by the influences were there before the success. The people around them, their faith, family, all keep them firmly grounded so that success is just a natural result of their path.Think about a black belt who retains a white belt’s desire to learn. The other person, however, believes so much in their success that it changes their whole being. They change, their behavior changes, and they become unrecognizable to those who thought they knew them before.
Romantic relationships can be this way too. You can bounce from one relationship to another, constantly seeking what might make you whole. Then, one day, you simply give up. You embrace being single and begin to work on your own things. Without even trying, you then find what you were always looking for. Without realizing it, without trying, you became exactly what you needed to be to attract what you always wanted. Some people also get caught in seeking mode, not even going from one relationship to another, but constantly seeking. They don’t realize that if they focused on being who they are, the best version of themselves, they would attract the person they always felt they needed to seek.
These are all examples of a principle God has already shown us-
Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight
When you stop waiting on the answer, and allow yourself to be present, a different kind of freedom starts to come through the door you just opened. Trusting in the Lord means that we stop focusing on the waiting, the worry, the anxiety of what answer might come, and we see that God is waiting to speak to us in the here and now, not in the imagination and worry of your views on future things. The Christ within is there to be discovered.
To get an idea of what this feels like, think about something you absolutely love to do. What does time feel like when you’re absorbed in the moment? It is seamless. You are fully present. We’ve been trained to worry. What about my rent, my mortgage? I’m getting older- what if I don’t meet someone? These feelings seem to be hammered into us at a young age. God, however, is telling you that all these things will be taken care of naturally if you can just be with Him in the moment.
This does not mean you do nothing. It means that God is there for you in so many places, just waiting for you. It could take the form of just about anything- work, sport, family, hobby. I’ve heard many people say Jiu Jitsu saved them from debilitating anxiety or depression etc. How can that be? It’s because, for those people, Jiu Jitsu opened the door to something so much more than themselves, their world, their worry etc. God is not something separate from you, or your experiences, but is in those things, waiting for you to be totally present with Him. A person may find their trust in God through a myriad of things, and once you do, you must trust in the Lord with your whole heart!
If you’re frustrated, tired of waiting, tired of trying to see how God is going to work all this out, try letting go of the seeking and commit to being right here, right now. Use the things that bring you closer to God’s spirit to bring you out of waiting and into experiencing. Remember that when you force yourself into the future, with worry and anxiety, you are taking yourself somewhere that God doesn’t intend for you. He is with you in the whole hearted presence of now, not in a false future you’ve decided to create.