O Holy Night #3 – Waiting…

It’s easy to forget that the great men & women of faith whose stories are recounted in Scripture were people just like us. It helps me to keep that in the forefront of my mind when I read about people like Joseph & Mary…  they were people going about their routine, normal, lives… looking to love, honor, & obey God to the best of their abilities. And then something miraculous happened.

God’s plan to reconcile ALL who would believe in Him through the Christ was revealed through the simple, humble obedience of this couple, Joseph & Mary, who probably didn’t fully grasp or understand the enormous impact on eternity which stemmed from their lived out faith responses to what God revealed to them.

They didn’t have to understand it fully. They didn’t ask “WHY?” They didn’t argue with Him, or look to disqualify themselves as being insignificant Instead, they chose, individually & as a couple, to trust the One who was asking them to believe what He said. Their faith response was the means by which God forever changed the world & remade, transformed, & restored humanity’s destiny.

That we, far from God, lost in our sins & wrongs, could be brought close to God through Christ, our Immanu’El, “God with us.” That our sins could be forgiven. And we could live life in all of its fullness.  This Christmas season, I am asking God to increase our faith… so that when He speaks to us, our response will be to BELIEVE. To TRUST. To put our HOPE in him. Not to argue. Attempt to disqualify ourselves, or try to figure out “WHY?” Our faith response will have an affect on our lives… & will also have a great impact on people downstream from us!

Waiting with purpose, a long obedience in the same direction, and other musings…

This Easter season has been a significant one for me – it started with a Holy Spirit-directed rediscovery of the significance of Christ’s suffering & Good Friday, & it continued with the waiting, uncertainty, & anticipation for the coming Resurrection Sunday. Coming out of Easter Sunday, I have been asking the LORD what & where He would like to work in me (& at Hillside.) What has continually come to mind has been the time period between Easter (the Feast of Passover) & the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church (the Feast of Pentecost.) I was drawn to Acts 1:1-11.

In this passage, we see that the Risen Christ spent about 40 days, post-Resurrection, with His disciples. His followers, believing that the time had FINALLY come for Christ to overthrow their Roman oppressors, couldn’t wait to question Him about the details on His presumed intentions for declaring & advancing a physical, political kingdom. His instructions, however, took them completely by surprise, as He told them their next steps were not to prepare for battle, but rather to return to Jerusalem TO WAIT for the promise of the Father, which, He said, “you heard from Me, for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Go back to Jerusalem. Wait for the promise. And then, you will receive the Holy Spirit – & when you do, you will receive power to be witnesses for Christ.

And wait they did.


Over these next weeks until Pentecost Sunday, our Sunday studies will be exploring what it means to wait, as well as different facets of what it might look like, to us individually & as a church, to wait & then, when it’s time, to act in Holy Spirit empowered actions. I’m looking forward to it.


Perseverance. Faithfulness. Patient endurance. These are some of my favorite phrases – probably because, to me, they so clearly capture what most of life in Christ is about. One of my favorite books is “A Long Obedience In The Same Direction,” by Eugene Peterson. The book is based upon the Psalms of Ascent, (Psalm 120-134, 15 songs that Jewish pilgrims sang as they climbed the hills leading to Jerusalem for the 3 main feasts of the year,) & it deals with what is necessary to live the Christian life, over the long haul. The title of the book comes from a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche:

“The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

During this time where I’ve got ‘waiting’ on my mind & heart, I’m revisiting “A Long Obedience…” & inviting our Hillside Learning Community reading group to join me in reading through & pondering the book (& these Psalms, in depth,) & then join together to discuss what God has been speaking to & forming in us.

waiting for change, my plans, & other musings…

…Jesus ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said, “you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, & you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem & in all Judea & Samaria, & to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8

Jesus was the Christ, this much the disciples knew. His resurrection from the dead had sealed that fact for them. And because He was the Christ, God’s Anointed One, the Son of David, Jesus’ next move should have been to follow in the David’s footsteps & lead Israel to military victory, evicting the Romans once & for all.

After 3 years, the disciples were still thinking in terms of “us vs. them.” They were still caught in the the temporary, the here & now. They still thought that their biggest problem was Rome, a problem that the Risen King could take care of quite well. Boom!

Maybe that’s why Jesus told them, strongly, to stay put in Jerusalem, to wait for the promised Holy Spirit. It’s like He said, “Guys, I don’t want you to go anywhere or do anything in your own strength. Wait for Mine. The kind of change that you & this world needs, My Kingdome coming, My will being done, isn’t brought about by human effort, but by the work of the Holy Spirit. So wait for Him. Then act.”

I get the disciples, especially how they were so quick to believe that God’s purposes actually mirrored their own. They needed to lift their eyes up from their myopic view of selves & get divine perspective.

This happens when the Holy Spirit gently confronts. Challenges. Convicts. Changes. Reveals. Fills. Empowers.

And suddenly, my agenda, my purposes seem small. Insignificant. Perhaps even irrelevant.

And there is a joy, a relief even, in the revelation of God’s purposes. Cause I FIT in them. And so do others.