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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Start:Stop - The stature of waiting

Bible reading

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2. 25 – 32)


50% of mobile users abandon a page if it doesn't load in 10 seconds. 3 out of 5 won't return to that site. 1 in 4 people abandon a web page that takes more than 4 seconds to load. T-shirt slogans say, “I want instant gratification and I want it now” and “Instant gratification takes too long.” The advertising slogan once used by the credit card Access – "take the waiting out of wanting" – illustrates how many people want to possess things the minute they decide they want them, whereas waiting is seen as passive and boring.

Simeon had been waiting throughout his life to see Lord’s promised Messiah, as the Holy Spirit had assured him that he would not die before the promised event occurred. His wait had been and it must have felt to him like a long time. He was tired from waiting and so ready for death that, as soon as he had seen Jesus, he prayed, “Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace.”

Waiting can grow the virtue of patience in us as to wait is a test of our patience and an opportunity to build patience. We would like God to solve all our problems right now, but our patience and perseverance is often tested before we find answers to our prayers. How would we actually practice patience if there were not times when we were called to wait upon the Lord?

We all know the saying that good things come to those who wait. Waiting can also sharpen our sense of anticipation and our sense of relief and appreciation when we receive that for which we have been waiting.

When the Bible mentions waiting, patience, perseverance or longsuffering, it is often in connection with trusting in God, as in Isaiah 40. 31: "those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."

Waiting reinforces for us that what is achieved is achieved through God and not primarily through our own ability. As a result, we learn to trust fully in him. If we will not wait, we will inevitably trust in someone or something other than God - usually our own abilities or righteousness.

W. H. Vanstone wrote a wonderful book called The Stature of Waiting in which he argued that it is only to human beings as we wait that “the world discloses its power of meaning” and we become “the sharer with God of a secret – the secret of the world’s power of meaning.” For many of us because we don’t stop and reflect the world exists for us simply as a “mere succession of images recorded and registered in the brain” but when we do stop, wait, look and listen then we “no longer merely exist” but understand, appreciate, welcome, fear and feel.


Lord God, there are so many things that can distract us from waiting. Although our 24-7 instant society seems to teach that impatience is a virtue, help us learn the virtue of waiting.

May our waiting lead us to know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day.

We cry, “how long O Lord?” We have remembered your coming and we long for your coming again – your second coming when all sorrow and suffering will cease. As the season of celebrating your first coming ends, teach us to wait expectantly and watchfully for your second coming.

May our waiting lead us to know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day.

May we recognise your love by forging an offering; the coming-to-be of understanding - knowing you more clearly, loving you more dearly, and following you more nearly. As this understanding comes in our lives, may your love convey its richest blessing and complete its work in triumph.

May our waiting lead us to know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day.


Love conveying its richest blessing. Love completing its work in triumph. The cessation of all sorrow and suffering. Learning the virtue of waiting. May those blessings of almighty God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – rest upon you and remain with you always. Amen.


Howard Goodall - The Lord Is My Shepherd.

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