The Waiting Game

This is a guest post by Linda Ricke.

man waitingThanksgiving is well behind us; it’s officially Christmas season. As soon as advertisers start their yearly enticement to spend, children begin their annual waiting game for Santa. It’s hard for little ones to wait four weeks. It isn’t always easy for adults either.

I’ve been doing a lot of waiting myself lately. I’ve been waiting for an appointment to see someone for a month. It’s been frustrating, and when I get to the appointment, I’ll most certainly have to wait again. In preparation, I’ll take something along to distract me.

As I await feedback on a different project that could prove to be life-transformative, it only seems like the wait has been forever in that barren emptiness of the unknown.

Isaiah 40:3 tells us, “A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the desert a way for the Lord.’” In Advent God charges us with getting ready for His Son. But God asks us not to be distracted. He wants us watchful and aware, our minds, eyes, and hearts wide open. He knows it is in the questions we ask ourselves while we are waiting that God provides us with the answers we only think we need to know now. That’s why God makes us wait.

Linda Ricke is a wife, a mother, and a grandmother who writes about everyday life from Monticello, Florida.

The Message

This is a guest post by Nancy Jo Sullivan.

elderly handsIn last Sunday’s Gospel, we heard the admonitions of John the Baptist: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” John proclaimed God’s message. Through him, God’s voice was heard. Can you remember a time when you heard God’s voice?

I remember hearing it a few years ago. That evening, my friend invited me to a Pentecostal prayer service.

“But I’m Catholic,” I told her.

“God will be there,” she said.

When we arrived at the meeting, I sat in the back row as my friend helped with hospitality in a nearby lobby. Soon hundreds of worshippers began singing joyful hymns while waving their arms in praise.

I felt uncomfortable. The informal prayer service was so different than the traditional Mass I had grown up with.

But there was another reason for my discomfort. As a single mother, I was raising three children, one with special needs. I was tired and overwhelmed.

“You’ve given me more than I can handle,” I told the Lord.

Lost in my thoughts, I hung my head. Soon, I felt the presence of someone standing behind me. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a cane resting on the chair right next to mine. An aged hand, gnarled and wrinkled, reached out for mine.

As the singing grew quieter, I heard the hushed voice of an elderly woman: “Whatever it is honey, God’s gonna take care of it.”

I don’t know why I didn’t turn around to see her face. I think I was too embarrassed to let her see my misting eyes. But as she spoke, I felt the presence of Christ.

Her voice was God’s voice. The words she shared brought hope and healing to my life.

This Advent, listen closely to the voices you hear. God may have a message for you.

Nancy Jo Sullivan is the author of Small Mercies: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life. She is a frequent speaker at both the local and national levels. Sullivan lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and blogs at NancyJoSullivan.com.

Stop. Look. Listen.

 

[Because Denise was off yesterday and I was left to my own devices, I accidentally scheduled 2 posts today! Please read Nancy Jo’s wonderful piece below this one…]

This is a guest post by regular commenter Michelle

Earlier this week Paul Campbell at People for Others posted three short rules for maintaining our relationship with God.  He wondered what rules other people might have.  I hear “rule” and think “rule of  life” — I’ve spent a long time praying with the Augustinians and I fear it shows.  Years ago, the Augustinian who was my spiritual director encouraged me to write my own “rule of life.”  A whole rule? I was too intimidated to try. Two decades later, I can sum up my rule of life and right relationship with God in three words:  Stop.  Look. Listen.

Stop.  When I’m on the move, I have to watch where I’m going; so I don’t trip over anything, so I know when I’ve arrived.  But all this focus on where I’m going too often reduces my vision to a tunnel. “Be still and know that I am God.”  All around me.

Look.  When I don’t have to watch where I’m going, I can notice what is around me.  Stopping lets me see not only God before me, but God behind me, God beside me, God beneath my feet, God above me and — thankfully —God within me.  (To take a page from St. Patrick.)

Listen.  A friend who is a Sister of St. Joseph and a physicist once pointed out that sound is a touch, there is a direct physical connection between the source and the listener.  Can I let God touch me?  Can I allow the Word to touch my ears that I might hear; touch my lips, that I might speak His name in thanks and praise and petition; touch my heart that I might love; and touch my soul that my very being may grasp the image in which it was fashioned, the end for which I was created.

And I will admit that sometimes I get no further than “stop” before my to-do list starts snapping at my ankles.  But I take heart in Abba Bessiaron’s wise advice from the 4th century.  There is no need to cling. God is here, God is everywhere.  Even when I’m not looking.