While We Wait 7th Sunday of Easter
Acts 1:1-11 ———- May 16, 2021 ———– Luke 24:44-53
Last week, I shared an excerpt from one of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This week, I will share some snippets from the book that kicked off the whole series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The author was an Oxford professor named C. S. Lewis. Although the book was written for children, adults responded to it in great numbers! Lewis was a man with a deeply-held Christian faith, and his books convey an underlying message of the Gospel. The winsome thing about the Chronicles of Narnia is that they are an absolute delight to read AND the Gospel message slips in there as well!
For those of you who have not read the book or seen the film, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. Four English children, two boys and two girls, stumble through a wardrobe and into another land called Narnia. They discover that the whole country is ruled by a witch—a witch who keeps it always winter but never Christmas. They are told that Aslan, the great Lion, is “on the move” and has been spotted in Narnia. The locals share:
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight.
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more.
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
Now, the poor residents of Narnia (these were all animals and various mythical creatures) had been suffering for many generations under the hateful tyranny of the witch, and they were excited to see that their rescue was at hand. The children were also told about the four thrones at the ancient capitol of Cair Paravel, along with this rhyme: When Adam’s flesh and Adam’s bone sits at Cair Paravel in throne, the evil time will be over and done.
It was made clear that these children were brought from another world to help them drive out the witch and to rule Narnia (under Aslan’s authority). Now, of course, the story has many more characters and twists and surprises—I hope you’ll read it for yourselves (even if you’ve seen the movie)! But the part of the story that I want to focus on is the capacity to wait, watch, and pray that the Narnians had. They kept their faith alive by repeating to each other, generation after generation, these prophetic rhymes, and they kept alert, waiting actively for the return of Aslan. So, when he returned, they were ready to act, to follow his leadership and accept the help that he had sent to them—the four children! This way, they were able to defeat the witch and restore Narnia to its proper order.
Prophecy and Those Who Wait for Fulfillment
We have, in our Judeo-Christian heritage, a tradition of waiting and watching and praying. If you have a concordance, I suggest that you look up the word “wait,” and see how many places it is used in Scripture! Here are just 2: Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”; Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in God’s word I put my hope.”
Friends, I am still learning that waiting is active. It’s not characterized by inactivity or being somehow suspended in time. No, the faithful wait with a sense of anticipation, actively trusting that God will move when the time is right. We wait with HOPE, which is not the same as “wishful thinking.” And, as we wait and trust and hope, we remind others of our hope, encouraging them to hang on to hope. And we keep watch, expecting to see God’s movement, welcoming God’s answer to our prayers.
NOT “Getting Ahead of the Lord”
You might perceive me as a person who has deep patience, and unlimited supply of the ability to wait. If so, it’s only because I use a lot of energy trying to convince people that I am patient! The truth is, I am a raging volcano of Impatience. I see something that I want—for myself or for others—and I start trying to move heaven and earth to make it happen. When I do that, I am “getting ahead of the Lord.” I am moving beyond what God is leading me to do—doing it MY WAY! I have to be reminded to “consider the lilies of the field,” to consider the mighty oak that takes forever to achieve its stature. I do believe that it’s okay to have “a sense of urgency”—but it needs to be channeled into that eager anticipation, that active trusting that God is moving at the correct pace.
To help slow myself down, I sometimes sing myself a little refrain: “In His time, in His time, God makes all things beautiful in His time…” The song asserts that true beauty is revealed when we look for all the intricate movements God uses to achieve God’s purposes! When I take “shortcuts,” they frustrate God’s plans and may very well delay the desired outcome rather than expediting it! I must be reminded to be ready to follow closely the Spirit’s leading, but to NOT get ahead of the Lord.
Listening for the Coach’s Voice
I once read about a coach that didn’t use a whistle to get his players’ attention, but instead trained them to listen for his voice. So, when they were in a noisy game, an exciting fourth quarter, the coach’s instructions were heard only by those who were attuned to his voice.
It reminds me of something Jesus said: “The Good Shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
Because they know his voice.
He also said, “I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it abundantly.” Friends, our lives will be more abundant when we learn to recognize his voice, and choose to follow it.
Jesus also told his Disciples to WAIT in Jerusalem, promising them that they would receive POWER when the Holy Spirit came upon them. And he said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” But first, WAIT. (Don’t get ahead of the Lord!)
Wait with anticipation of what God is doing.
The Narnians in our story had to actively wait for the coming of Aslan, then they responded to his leadership. In the same way, you and I are called to wait (with anticipation and hope and trust) for the Spirit’s leading. Friends, we are the church of Jesus Christ, praying for God’s healing in our community, our nation, our world. And while we wait, watch, listen, and pray, God is equipping us to follow God’s lead—to be ready to march at a moment’s notice.