17When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them,
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
19I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive;
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
20so that all may see and know,
all may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.
Advent, a time of waiting, a gestation time of new beginnings, I have heard those words many times over many Advents. And, while all this waiting is important I have a confession to make, I hate waiting! Yes, my impatience frequently gets me into trouble, with G-d and with those around me. I begin before the preparation has been completed and my task, while not a total failure, does not live up to its potential. Patience is not one of the gifts G-d has seen fit to give me. It is something I have been trying to learn for 66 years and I am still not very good at it.
I admit to being one of those thirsty people in the desert who wants to have water and I want now! If I had been with the Israelites in the Sinai I would have marched right up to Moses and said “I’m thirsty, I need water and I need it now!” And I am sure Moses would have looked at me with a jaundiced eye and said “get a grip; learn some patience for crying out loud. You are out of Egypt so be grateful for what you have and quite complaining!” Yep that would have been me hearing those words. Yet in Isaiah we hear that G-d will provide water and more to those who are poor and in need and it is not lost on me that G-d came through with food and water during the Exodus. So yes I do believe G-d, in Her own good Time and Way, will provide.
The key to this waiting is “in Her own good Time and Way” G-d will offer the drink and food we need and it’s always in that perfect moment. The moment when we not only need it the most but the moment when we are open the widest for hearing G-d’s voice speak the Word we so desperately thirst and hunger for.
For the last two and half years I have been in my own time of Advent, walking in a wilderness of my own making as I waited for G-d to give me a Word I could respond to about where my ministry would take me. And in that time there have been many impatient moments. Many times I have tried to hurry G‑d. I have tried to guess what She will speak and tried starting a task with no direction from Her. It rarely works out because you cannot hurry G-d. G-d will speak when the time is right, when my heart is open the widest to hear G-d speak and not before.
Through out this time G-d has been allowing a ministry to begin gestating within me. To grow in concept piece by piece, step by step while at the same time letting G-d open me up to whom I am and who She is. I am learning that G‑d is my greatest counselor, friend, lover, supporter, confidant, comforter, and confessor. All I have to do is live a life that puts G-d first, keep our relationship strong and allowing the counselor, friend, lover, supporter, confidant, comforter, and confessor work through me in a working partnership with Her.
It seems as if it would be easy to do what G-d asks of us doesn’t it? But it is not. Ask the Israelites how hard it was to follow the path G-d laid before them. Ask the disciples how hard it was to walk the path Jesus laid before them. Each one will tell you it is not easy. Yes G-d will provide for the poor and needy but verse 41:20 of Isaiah says it best. We are to “… see and know … consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” We fail hopelessly in that understanding. All too often we take G-d’s handiwork for granted and do not see what the Lord does for us. I, just like the rest of the human race, all too often think we are entitled to the abundance we see around us. We forget just where and who it comes from, where and from whom we come from. It has taken me a life time to understand in a small way the meaning of verse 20. And, it has only been in the last year and half that I have worked hardest to be patient and to let G-d speak when She is ready and not me.
And now G-d is bringing me closer to an understanding of what my role as Her partner will be. And, somehow I feel it is appropriate that G-d picked Advent for this to happen, the time for me to begin to feel the movement of a baby ministry within me. I am excited and scared about bringing into reality this ministry of my very own. It takes courage for me to step out and claim my role as G-d partner a courage I do not always have. I have many fears; will I be worthy of G-ds trust, will I hurry this up and as a result rush to completion what needed time to grow, will I give up saying “sorry G-d this to hard for me,” will I simply not be enough for the task. There are so many fears, so much excitement, and so many hopes. The future I do not know, only G-d does, so I will keep waiting, and listening, and moving with G-d’s time and moments. Patience is really hard but I continue to learn to lean into the open arms and let G-d teach me.
This Week’s Spiritual Practice
Do you have something waiting to emerge from you? Waiting is hard (just ask any 4 year old) but it can be done. So this week I simply ask that each day you find yourself a quiet place and sit in silence for 5 to 20 minutes. Listen for a Word from G-d. It might be a Word about doing something, or it might be G-d whispering “I love you.” Just remember whatever happens let it happen in G-d’s time not yours and be grateful for the time spent with G-d.
Ruth Jewell, ©December 10, 2013