- “Admit it. You’re waiting for something you know won’t happen.”
- “People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, all life for happiness.”
- “Am I the only one who spent a large portion of my childhood waiting for my superpowers to start working?”
- Waiting, waiting, waiting. All my life, I've been waiting for my life to begin, as if somehow my life was ahead of me, and that someday I would arrive at it. (Camryn Manheim)
- I took a course in speed waiting. Now I can wait an hour in only ten minutes. (Steven Wright)
The book of Luke is about living as a disciple of Jesus Christ ~ This scripture today is about learning to Wait. Waiting well is a huge part of life in Christ. How to wait well. How to redeem the time while we wait.
I appreciate the quotation in the bulletin: “Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do till we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be” (John Ortberg). Waiting is a process of molding our lives.
This scripture is two parts, both about waiting. Between the two sets of stories is a comical transition verse: Luke 12:41 READ. What do you think Peter? Jesus doesn’t answer the question directly ~ he continues teaching about waiting with another story….I can answer Peter’s question: the idea of waiting as a way of life is for anyone who will listen. Is this story for you? Are you frustrated because you are waiting for a resolution to a problem that is going on forever? Jesus does not answer Peter’s question directly, but he leaves it open ended as an invitation for Peter and everyone else to answer for themselves. Are you ready to grow in your faith? The truth is everyone has something that is frustratingly slow in working itself out… Are you ready to redeem the time of waiting? Instead of making every prayer a cry for God to take away burdens, make at least some of the prayers for God to help you make it through and to grow your faith in the process.
Some important lessons on how to wait well. READ Luke 12:35-36. While you wait, be responsible in the small things…. Get dressed and keep the lamp burning. We don’t know when the amazing, the huge, the large movements of God will happen. Luke 12:40 & 46 both emphasize we don’t know when Christ will return… how often we get discouraged because we feel stuck in a situation uncertain of when a resolution will come… but one thing we know for sure: everyday is a gift filled with small blessings. Open your eyes. Expect. Get dressed. Keep your lamps burning. You don’t know when the master will return, but be ready… Once in a while I get a sincere question of what I do as a pastor during the week outside of the Sunday morning service… Everyday I take care of dozens of little tasks, phone calls, notes, answer questions… I love spectacular meaningful gatherings, but most blessings are found in the small things, the everyday life. Get up and turn on the light. That’s how you wait. Go about your day getting everything ready so that when the Lord returns he’ll find the work complete, the house ready….
Here’s a story about finding meaning in the small ordinary things of life. It is an old story I probably first read 20-30 years ago. Forgive me if you think it corny, but some of you may need a Kleenex…. A cab driver tells the story:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked..
'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. A small woman in her 90's opened the door. By her side was a small suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. 'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said.
I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.' 'Oh, you're such a good boy,' she said.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?' 'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.. 'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.' I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.
'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.'
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. 'What route would you like me to take?' I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'. We drove in silence to the address she had given me.
It was a low building, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. 'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse. 'Nothing,' I answered. 'You have to make a living,' she said. 'There are other passengers,' I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. 'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.' I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient? What if I had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one. PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU SAID. BUT THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.
Get up, get dressed, turn on the lights and go about your day as you WAIT for the coming of the Lord. Life is about the ordinary. You never know the blessing that is yours. Friday was my birthday. One person that found herself at the B&B Hotel in Sumas 4-5 years ago sent me this note on FB: HAPPY BIRTHDAY Carl!! Think about you SO often, with deep fondness for making my stay in the US tolerable. Love you and many of your church people for the love you showed. You have NO idea how much you meant to me!! Have the BEST birthday ever!! ,,,,,
Amazing things happen when you get dressed and keep the oil lamp burning….
Another amazing lesson is found in Luke 12:37. This is a verse we really don’t want… READ. Is this saying what I think it is saying… Jesus Christ is going to serve us. Is the servant posture of Jesus going to continue in heaven itself? At his second coming it sure sounds like it. You know what I think that means for us in how to wait well? If the ultimate vision of what we are waiting for includes Jesus serving us, then I think our lives as we wait NOW, is to be willing to be served. As we wait, we are to get up and go about our day, getting dressed, keeping the oil burning, and we are to receive. Jesus is going to serve you… let it begin now.
As you wait, find ways for your batteries to be recharged, allow others to serve you, as a small measure of how Jesus Christ will serve you in the fullness at his coming again. Three times there is a common refrain spoken in this scripture. Three times in Luke 12:37, 38 and 43 the scripture says, “It will be good.” It will be good when Jesus comes and finds you are ready for Him, waiting…
You know where else in scripture a similar declaration is spoken over and over. Genesis 1, the account of creation. At the end of day one of creation: “And God saw that it was good.” End of day two: “And God saw that it was good.” Day 3-4-5-6 it was good. When the Lord returns, it will be good. It is like the days of creation all over again. As we wait, as we serve, as we are served, may you find yourself re-created by the blessings of God. Waiting is a time of transformation! It is good. It is good. May each day be a day of goodness because you blessed another person in ways you may never know, you served, and the Lord refreshed you by serving you. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life. That is what waiting is about.
I am not going to go into great detail the 2nd half of the scripture. It is a warning to those who don’t wait well, sobering words for those who know what the master wants while he is away, but they do their own thing, they think they have plenty of time figuring they can get prepared tomorrow, but then the master comes unexpectedly and nothing has been done. Let it be a warning that while we wait we are to be focused on the master’s will. We will be held accountable for what we know is right, not what we don’t know. We are to be people of peace within ourselves and with others. The scripture goes on to talk about how the more we engage in the things of God, the more we are given. As we wait well, as we do God’s will, as we seek the things of God, our faith increases, our awareness grows, we can see with greater clarity. Last Thursday when I got home in the late afternoon the sky above my house was suddenly filled with Canadian Geese frying in at least a dozen huge V-formations from the east towards the west…. It must have taken at least a minute for all of them to fly overhead honking wildly. I had time, so I stood and looked up in amazement. Suddenly I realized the amazing detail of the individual wings flapping, the movements of their bodies, and I realized how well I could see since my eye surgery… As we wait, the Lord gives clarity, peace, understanding….
“Keep watch” ~ pay attention, be amazed, be ready. This is the calling of disciples of Jesus Christ. As we wait we are called to be servants. We are also called to be served. We are called to be expectant. We are called to be prepared. Redeem the time. Live for Christ like he is coming any moment. Get dressed and keep the oil burning. When he returns he wants to find us ready and expectant. As we watch and wait, keep living, keep serving, keep receiving. Jesus says, “It will be good.” Amen.