Sermon on waiting,
Jn. 20:26-27; 21:1-7; ?Waiting on the Lord to Show Up? 4/12/15 America could win the award for the fastest society in the world.? The United States leads the world in social media use (we have 151 million on Facebook ? India is second with 103 million), and is second only to China, which has a billion people, in the number who use email.? 51% of world Twitter users are in the United States.? We like instant communication, instant knowing, instant service, instant life.? But the problem is that while we have made tremendous progress at speeding life up- life doesn?t always happen instantly.? Ask a woman who is pregnant for nine months- or her husband.? Ask someone who is told their loved one has a few months to live.? Ask someone stuck on I-26 for an hour when they have an important appointment down town.? Life is full of thwarted expectations and plans that remind us that we are not in control.? The good news is that there is hope in the waiting.? A great part of faith is being able to wait on the Lord to- show us His will; for the sun to break through the clouds of life; finding meaning in waiting is very similar to finding meaning in pain or suffering.? So how are you at waiting?? I confess I am not very good. ???? The Bible is full of examples of waiting, and Easter is full of examples of waiting too. ?Why didn?t Jesus just pop up when they took him off the cross?? Why did He makes us wait three days?? This had to be torture for the disciples. ?It was three days before Jesus came back.? Friday was long; Saturday was very long, and Sunday was wild and crazy.? He told the disciples to go to Galilee and wait for Him (Mt. 26:32; 28:16) to appear. ?Galilee was a day?s journey, and then after they got there they were supposed to just wait until He showed up.? Jesus showed up several times- when they were fishing, when they were on the mountain viewed by several hundred at once.? Easter, in some ways is a lesson in waiting on the Lord.
- WE NEED GOD TO SHOW UP I have seen people grieve who have no hope beyond this life. I have seen people get upset who do not believe that God can help them- it is not a pretty thing. When I was a chaplain at Richmond Memorial Hospital it was my job to tell families in the ER or ICU waiting rooms that their loved one did not make it.? I can tell you the difference in families of faith and families who have no faith was tremendous.? God is our refuge and strength an ever present help in trouble. People who cannot wait on God have a tough time in the midst of suffering, death, or waiting.? Often they view waiting or suffering as attacks on their own safety and security.? The speed of our society and the stress put on us to hurry up has produced epidemic amounts of anxiety and stress-related diseases. Princeton Survey (cited in CDC) indicates that ? of Americans believe that work is more stressful now than a generation ago.? Stress not only affects things like blood pressure and heart disease but we now know that stress effects the bodies ability to regulate inflammation and also effects the immune system. So do you get stressed out when you wait- or have you learned to wait on the Lord? ?? ??Some of you are in a place where you know God wants you to be, but it is tough and it is hard and it is miserable.? It is in those situations that God provides His presence and His grace.? Paul said that when he had a thorn in his flesh that God?s grace is sufficient for him for His power is made perfect in weakness. ???? That is the story of the crucifixion and resurrection from the perspective of the disciples.? They were a broken group, a miserable group, a scared group.? Peter felt he could not lead.? But Jesus came to Peter in his misery and asked him, ?do you love me? three times- to correspond to his three denials.? This was hard but it was what Peter needed, and in the end he had confidence in Jesus? showing up when he needed it, and had confidence in Jesus? presence and also in his own love for the Lord. II. THE PROBLEMS OF WAITING ON GOD- Waiting almost by definition is a problem and means stopping.? It means putting what you want to do on hold to wait on another. Jean Paul Sartre in his book, Huis Clos- no exit- Waiting on Goddot by Samuel Beckett- implies that Hell is waiting.? Unbelief is impatience on God. An unbeliever may see waiting as an interruption.? C.S. Lewis once said, ?Disappointment is His appointment?- you just have to change one letter. Truth is one of the essence of being a Christian is trusting in God during the waiting. ???? React to obstacles in our sense of timing by 1. Giving up; Coach K- I think some parents now look at a youngster failing as the final thing. It’s a process, and failure is part of the process. or 2. Taking things into our own hands and being unwise and hasty.? The Bible is full of commendations on waiting in faith on God.? Abraham was promised the land and children- but he owned no land until he bought a grave for his wife, and he had no child until his 100th birthday.? So Sarah took things into her own hand- she couldn?t wait- and gave Abraham Hagar as a second wife so they could have an adopted child.? But after Sarah actually did have her own child.? Ishmael is the father of the modern Arabs while Isaac is the ancestral father of the Jews.? What if she had waited? ??????? Saul was a intellectual believer but he had an inability to trust or wait on God.? His main sin was he could not wait on God.? So Samuel was late so Saul became a priest and made the sacrifice himself so they could go into battle-and they were defeated.? Saul was always disobeying God in order to take things into his own hands when it came to waiting.? In contrast to that David in his early commendable life was known for his patience and ability to wait on God. ???????? Rick Warren tells the story of how years ago he met an older man in church who said that getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to him.? He was 40 years old and he worked in a sawmill.? His boss came in one day and told him he was fired?no severance, no retirement, nothing.? When he went home his wife asked him what he was going to do.? He said ?I guess I?m going to do what I?ve always wanted to do. I?m going to mortgage our home and go into the building businesss.?? He built two small motels, but within five years he was a multi-millionaire.? The man?s name was Wallace Johnson, co-founder of the Holiday Inn hotel chain.? At one point the largest hotel chain in the world.? Wallace did not understand why he was fired.? Only later- after waiting years in the sawmill and a few risky years in the motel-building business did he understand what was going on.
III. GOD DOES SHOW UP in His timing and in His way. Patience and trust in God really go together.? Waiting is not the main thing- but seeing your waiting as purposeful- that God is in it- that God is teaching you patience and trust in Him brings a whole new perspective.? You don?t have to have video game after video game available for your children in the doctor?s waiting room- maybe one or two- but to not teach your children to wait would be to do a disservice to them.? Being able to wait helps you to function better in society.? It is not that the person in line ahead of you at the store or the person ahead of you on the interstate is your instant enemy. Perhaps you remember those great verses in Isaiah 40- ?Even youths shall faint and grow weary- but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.? They shall mount up with wings like eagles.? They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.? ???? Think of Joseph who did not give up on God even when his brothers sold him into slavery and he spent years in misery- but he always did his best and kept the faith whether he was in Potiphar?s house as a slave or in jail unjustly- and God raised him up to be second in the land of mighty Egypt. ?Moses was keeping sheep for 40 years before God called him, and then spending 40 years in the desert was something he knew about. ???? Jesus himself was continually teaching his disciples to wait.? The man came to Jesus to heal his child.? On the way people were asking Jesus to heal them.? Jesus stopped and healed a woman who was hemorrhaging. But because he stopped someone came and said, ?Don?t bother the teacher anymore- your little girl is dead.?? But it was not too late for Jesus who raised the girl up from the dead. ???? Or the event right before the Passion of Christ.? Lazarus, one of Jesus? good friends, was sick. His sisters Mary and Martha sent word but Jesus waited a few days.? When Jesus finally arrived Lazarus had died and the sisters said, ?Lord if you had been here he wouldn?t have died.?? They were saying, ?Why didn?t you hurry up??? But Jesus said, ?I am the resurrection and the life? and raised him up. ??? These two resurrection stories along with Jesus? own resurrection story let us know that waiting on the Lord bears fruit even when we think all hope is lost.? They are also are real reminders that Jesus can give us eternal life.? ????? ???? So we do not grieve, Paul says, as those who have no hope.? Every breath of our life is important, but that does not mean that we must live every breath as if it has to be filled with stress producing things.? It is no accident that the idea of Christian Sabbath and Easter were coordinated.? The Christian Sabbath is not Saturday as in the Old Testament- but Easter changed all of that.? God showed up- and that should bring us rest and peace.? When Jesus shows up he usually says first ?peace to you.?? Often times in our own lives we feel closest to the living God- and His peace- in the midst of the most sorrowful, painful, and stressful events in our lives. ???? Jesus also promised to show up.? He promised to show up in worship- He said, ?where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.?? He promised to show up in communion- where ?this is my body and blood? are signs of communing with the risen Lord.? He promised to show up when we serve and help the needy- saying, ?as much as you have done this to the least of these you have done it for me.?? He promised to show up when we bear witness for Him- ?Go into all the world and make disciples? and Lo I am with you always even to the end of the world.?? Jesus promises to show up in worship and communion; service and witness.? We should look and wait on Him there. ??????? At West Asheville Presbyterian we called her ?Ms. Effie.?? When I met her she was 83.? She had lived through the Great Depression in the mountains.? She went hungry and was in real danger of starving to death.? But as she said, ?I trusted in God and He always sees me through.?? She worked hard and married a man who also worked hard.? She didn?t see him much, and when she did he was very mean toward her.? But as she said, ?I trusted in God and He always sees me through.?? Her husband died in his middle years of a heart attack, leaving her a very wealthy woman.? She was always smiling, always patient.? She was pleasant to be around- she loved the Lord, and she knew what it was like to wait on Him.? I learned a lot from her as a young pastor, but wish I had learned more.? Effie gave most of her fortune away- for she had a heart for the hurting and the needy.? When she was dying, she did not fear.? Her death was not quick, but she said, ?I trust in God.? In His timing He will take me.? He always sees me through.?? If you learn to wait on Him in life, it is easy to wait on Him in the toughest times.? We learn to wait on the Lord as we face difficulties, facing our crosses.? We do not learn patience or the ability to trust in God when everything is going our way.? Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart. Jesus will show up when we wait on Him.