I know most people have heard the term, “ants in your pants,” and most of us have talked about being itchy for something. But I think I’ve taken the idea of being itchy and waiting too literally this year.
I cannot stop itching. I’ve had this rashy thing going on since early November. I had a brief respite last week through the wonders of pr*dnisone. So I have an appointment with a dermatologist today and an allergist tomorrow.
In the meantime I’m on my version of an allergy-free diet (I’m not allergic to meat, dairy, potatoes, apples, and spinach) and I’m waiting. The joke around the house has become that I can eat dirt. If it lives in the dirt, I can eat it. LightHusband (unwittingly) bought a nice pork butt for the crock pot today. I announced, as I put dinner together this morning, “Great! I’m now eating dirt and butt. What a wonderful life!” In true 10 year old fashion, LightBoy pounced on the idea of eating butt.
“Are we really eating butt?”
“Yes.” flat-eye look.
“Well. I hope they washed it first.” and he knocked himself over with his comic prowess.
Being itchy as I am has given me a weird dynamic to reflect on the waiting that we do and how we do it. I suppose I shouldn’t speak for everyone here, I can only really speak for myself. I’m not a very good wait-er. I don’t think our culture is very good at waiting. We want what we want when we want it. If it’s not given to us, then we go out and get it for ourselves somehow. We find ways around the rules. We don’t like change so much. Change requires that we live within the rules and work through them.
God requires that we wait. She sent a baby in response to several hundred years of waiting for a king. It was so upside down that no one saw what was happening. Despite the prophecy, they could not see it. I’ll bet none of us could have seen it. The Light came and the darkness didn’t know it.Â History is always obvious once you know what is going to happen. But in the moment? Not so much. And no one took note of a poor Hebrew couple from a hick town who were so unorganized and disconnected they couldn’t even find a room for the night. It wasn’t the holiday season back then. It wasn’t cHannukah. It wasn’t anything. It was just mid-winter and a census. There was nothing going on … it was the long dry spell between the high holy days of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret in the autumn and the Pesach holiday in the spring. Into that period of waiting and rest for the winter, Herod called a census.
So, the child/babe was born. We celebrate this every year. But here’s the thing. He had to grow up. More waiting. 30 years of it. For Mary, thirty years of clinging to a couple of sentences with an angel in a barn, sprinkled with a few incidents throughout Jesus’ young life. We throw around casual phrases, “Jesus was either a liar or a lunatic or Lord of all,” and think we’re cute. I wonder about how those paradigms played out for the waiting that Mary lived. Or Joseph. What is it like to have a 12 year old son break all the strict rules when you know in your heart He is the messiah? And very few others recognize that? Mary had a powerful, earthy faith in the Father that allowed her to continue on. We don’t know what questions her heart asked. But we do know that she kept on in the face of them.
How we wait and whether we wait, I’m coming to believe, is a reflection of our levels of faith, hope and peace. Waiting is difficult. Whether or not we can talk ourselves through it is a reflection of where our faith is, whether or not we have hope and what we think of of peace. Are we willing to wait on God and Her timing for a particular issue, or will we shoehorn our timing and plans in where they do not belong? Waiting is hard and discerning the difference between God’s plans and mine is even more difficult sometimes. It is very beguiling to think that because this or that appears to be working out, it must be within the Divine will. So, I must wait. Wait. And wait again. Even then I usually get it wrong. When we want something, that still small voice would appear to become smaller and even more still. This means we need to sit very, very quietly. Instead, what do we do?
When we are not hearing from God, when there is “an issue” looming large, bearing down on us … in our families, in our personal lives, in our communities. What do we do? Do we sit quietly and wait? Do we, in fact and deed, trust that God will come through for us? Or is our real bottom line that we think that God helps those who help themselves?
So, while you’re out shopping, prepping dinner, making cookies, whatever … think about how you wait and how you trust. What do those say about your faith?