The Christmas story was written slowly. For ages the Hebrew people waited for His coming. Which is why on this December day I find it strange to read James, who was writing to his fellow Hebrew believers say, “Be patient as you wait for the Lords return.” They had just spent centuries waiting for the Lords first turn.
Imagine being a devout Jew growing up in the 1st Century. You're well aware of your family's tradition and longing for the Messiah. You've prayed the prayers as a child. You've read the prophecies. You've dreamt about the possibilities. Then you witness Jesus' miracles, his teachings, his death and apparent resurrection. This is amazing. You decide to put your trust in this Jesus. This is what you and your entire family have been waiting for! Then Jesus leaves and James tells you, "wait for His return".
Patience, restraint, waiting... they're all synonymous. They're all indispensable. I've tried interacting with God without being patient. Humorous. I wonder why it is I believe God must hurry up? Am I that important? I would guess between the two options - me slowing down or God hurrying up - it would be more productive for me to slow down. But waiting doesn't come naturally to me. And restraint isn't something our society applauds. Which is a real problem... both that our society doesn't teach restraint and that I'm worried about applause. Maybe I should do as my ten-year old did recently. When asked what kind of vegetables he wanted to eat after his main course, without looking up he dryly replied in between bites, "We'll cross that bridge when we get there."
Richard Foster says, "Waiting is hidden preparation." Every biblical character we read about needed hidden preparation. Every person of authentic faith I've ever met has had to become familiar with the concept. It's likely I need to as well.
This December, once again, our frenetic culture will wind itself up in an effort to find something, to get somewhere, to purchase something. Maybe the finding is in the waiting... waiting to be found.
Meanwhile, be patient as you wait for the Lord's return.