The Waiting Game: The Timing-Exodus 24: 12-18

Moses and Jesus Stained GlassOn the Sunday before Lent, we usually read of Jesus and three of his disciples going to the Mount of Transfiguration before turning to Jerusalem.  It’s a moment of God’s confirming presence at a time when Jesus needed it; and his disciples too, though they didn’t know it.  Jesus’ story is rooted in this Exodus story. We grasp what happened to Jesus and the disciples if we know what happened when God’s presence falls on Moses like a cloud falls on Mt. Sinai.  This six-day experience taught Moses to wait in the clouds with trust though not understanding why God’s presence enveloped him.  He learns it’s after a waiting time that God’s Sabbath voice speaks.post-it-note_pay-attention

God isn’t waiting for Moses to do something.  This isn’t a story of Moses climbing the mountain in search of God.  This is a story of Moses being drawn to the mountain and waiting for six days with nothing but silence embracing him.  Moses can’t control God’s Sabbath voice; it comes as a gift, pure and simple that none of us can engineer.  God’s comes to us not by our own doing, but often in ways we least expect.  All of us can tell of times when God has spoken sometimes: via a person at work, through a friend, or in a tragedy; we could list numerous others ways.

The number one rule of the spiritual life is to pay attention to the voice of God on all days in all ways.  The art of waiting involves divinely tuning our lives.  It means listening with sensitive ears and seeing with open eyes what God is doing around us and saying to us, even while we wait.

Cloud on a MountainThe people at the mountain’s foot see a cloud billowing smoke and think Moses is consumed by the fire; confirming their fear of God.  Moses had stood before a burning bush that wasn’t consumed.  He knew you enter into God’s fiery presence not with fear, but with awe of being drawn near.

God is always near, even when we’re in the cloud waiting and it feels like we’re about to be consumed.  We wait assured God is warming and enlightening us on the cloudy days of waiting, even it feels like a firestorm threatens.  Anxiety during waiting days is unbecoming.  Wallowing in pity, which is a choice, deafens spiritual ears and blinds transcendent eyes.  A winsome faith sits still in the cloud that has surrounded and settled in on us; trusting God will speak in due time because God is always near.IMG_0014

We visit the Miraculous Staircase at the Loretta Chapel in Santa Fe recently.  The construction of the staircase is wrapped in mystery.  It is a mystery who built the staircase, since a carpenter showed up, worked in secrecy and left town without asking to be paid.  The materials used to build the staircase is a mystery, since none of the wood in the staircase can be found for 1000’s miles around and the local lumber yard knew nothing of it’s origin.  It is mystery how the spiral staircase stands since there is no center support, it is not attached to the wall and it was put together without nails.  As reasonable as we might want to be, sometimes we must suspend reason and trust that a miracle can happen, if we will wait on God in due time.

It’s a sight to behold (pardon the pun) to see blind skiers ski.  They can’t see the terrain.  They’re not alone; a guide leads them, telling them where and when to turn.  The blind skier is a parable of waiting on God’s timing.  There are times we too are blind and we need a guide to tell us when and where to turn.  We know we can’t go at it alone; so we turn to someone to walk with us until we can see again the hand of God and hear God’s voice.

Blind SkierSome of us learned we needed a guide the hard way.  We realized after we have spent a good portion of life telling God, “I got this”.  We came to our spiritual senses after falling head over heals because we could not manage that big bump or sharp curve alone.  Most of us learned the value of a guide the slow way.  We spiritually awoke after realizing we’re hopelessly lost and tangled in a jungle of responsibilities and vines of obligations.  There was nothing we could do to help ourselves, so we tried to soothe ourselves with a little TV or big snack.  Those things settled us for a while.  The only thing that did for us was exchange a gnawing anxiety for a dulled sensibility that at allowed us to sleep another night.

We all share such an under life, and it is almost bearable.  Whether we learned our lesson the hard way or the slow way, we eventually come to a place where we know that going at it alone simply doesn’t work nor does it change anything.  We can thank God that we arrived at the place where we longed for a guide, keenly aware of our limitations and blind spots.inbetweenwaitingwebecome

A waiting time is a becoming time-a time to wait on the voice and activity of God, who can shape us…if we can just wait.   This is why guides are needed companions, they helps us see life isn’t a search for a cloudless sky.  They show us life is a wonderful and majestic tromp, as they walk with us until we come to a clearing in the midst of the clouds.  We join our guide in pursuing these clearings in our celestial chase to catch a glimpse of the glory of God or to draw closer to the love of God.  A guide is indispensible during a time of waiting for a clearing to come into our life.

Sometimes, a clearing helps us get our bearings- we experience peace, rest, shelter, quiet, or healing.  Sometimes, a clearing allows us inspect the damage; fill out an estimate report and make needed repairs.  Sometimes, a clearing gives us the space to make mid course corrections or to completely start over.  Usually after the clearings, we see and hear things we couldn’t see or hear before we passed through the clearing.  Clearings aren’t optional; they are required stops.  If we don’t seek them, they will seek us in the form of heart attacks, serious illnesses, nervous breakdowns, addictive behavior, extreme loneliness, or even worse.

tour_guideI have encouraged you to seek a guide and be a guide in this Lenten season.  They may have different names: spouse, minister, friend, mystic, book, mentor, counselor, parent, or neighbor.  Let him or her help you or you help someone else embrace the waiting by showing each other how to stay in conversation with God, no matter how cloudy the sky.  Guides keep the dialogue going until we understand how we’re being shaped by what God is doing in our life.  Sustaining a conversation is the key to waiting; it readies us to hear the fresh word God speaks upon arriving at the clearing.

The work of the guide includes holding us accountable to intentional times of solitude and prayer-the training grounds that teach us to wait.  Guides are companions who help us stay strong so we won’t turn our back on hard times; knowing they also teach us to wait.  Guides keep us from making all moments good for something; insisting we do some holy nothing; simply listening to God while we wait.  Who will guide you to a clearing in life?

A fellow proposed saying, “Will you have a conversation with me for the rest of our lives?”  The best marriages carry on life-long conversations.  They fritter away hours, relishing in the goodness of their lives together.  They may not get much done on some days and some may think they are wasting time; but staying in the conversation sustains their union.marriage-proposal

Our union with God can be seen as a life-long conversation.  At times, it is a lively exchange in which we can never get enough of each other.  At other times, it’s marked by periods of silence; the heavens seem to be pausing in thought.  God is always near, interjecting heavenly words into our earthly conversations.  Whether we’re waiting to arrive at clearing or relishing in a time of crystal clear insight, we must stay in the conversation.  Staying in the conversation sustains and strengthens our union with God.

Do you remember going into a phone booth and shutting the door so the light would come on.  Imagine a person leaning out the door underneath the light; looking like an awkward gymnast.  They are trying to read a number from a phone book because they didn’t know about the light coming on when you close the door.  I know some of you have no idea what phone booth or phone book is.  Finally someone comes by and says if you close the door the light will come on.

If you close the door the light will come on.

Phonebooth Lit

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Published in: on March 16, 2014 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

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