May 19 2013

Waiting on God

robin 1Today is Pentecost Sunday.  On this day Christians all around the world pause to remember how the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the early disciples in Jerusalem shortly after Jesus had left the earth.  It is a very exciting story recorded in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.  In the first chapter of that same book the stage is set for that special day when Jesus told his followers “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (vs. 4-5)  The part of this I want to emphasize today is the disciples’ call to wait. 

For whatever reason, Jesus was not ready to bestow the Holy Spirit upon them prior to his ascension.  For that they would have to wait a few days.  It is amazing how often the Scriptures talk about waiting on God.  It is quite clear that God does not operate on the same time table we do.  We like things to happen fast but God seldom gets in a hurry.  And because God does not get in a hurry we have to wait.  Are you a good waiter?  I’m not.  I find waiting for anything I really want difficult.  I’m more of a “I want what I want and I want it now” kind of guy.  Such an attitude usually leads to a great deal of frustration.

robin 3I thought about that yesterday as I was photographing the baby robin you see in the pictures here.  Ironically, I was reading a book about John James Audubon when I saw the bird through the window sitting on a wicker chair on the porch.  The bird eventually flew into a nearby tree and I got to capture some images of it sitting there.  Not long later I noticed that the baby robin had company.  What I will assume was its mother began bringing it worms and berries to eat.  I decided I’d try to capture the feeding with my camera too.  Doing so became an exercise in patience and waiting.  I kept wanting to rush the adult robin, wishing it would hurry up and come back.  I found myself getting frustrated when it did not return as fast as I wanted it to.

The whole time I was fretting I was watching the baby bird through my telephoto lens.  I noticed that when the adult robin left the little one sometimes seemed to wait patiently for her return and at other times appeared to get agitated when she did not come back right away.   I also noticed that whether the bird waited patiently or got agitated the mother bird kept coming back with more food.  Watching all this take place in front of me got me to thinking that when we do have to wait on God for something there are two ways we may do so.  We can patiently wait on God to act, believing that His timing is best, or we can get all worked up and frustrated. 

robin 2In the end God, like the mother robin, will provide for us what we need but how we wait in the meantime is up to us.  If we know God is going to provide for us then we might as well learn to be patient and not stress out.  It does no good to get all flustered.  In fact, that only makes matters worse.  If we are smart we will simply sit back and wait, putting our trust in both God and God’s timing.

I write all of this today probably more for my own sake than yours.   There are some things going on in my life right now where I’m really struggling to be patient with God’s timing.  My natural tendency is to get anxious and upset.  While watching the baby robin yesterday I sensed God telling me “You might as well chill out.  Getting upset isn’t going to change anything.  Just be patient and I’ll come through for you when the time is right.”  That’s not what I wanted to hear but was certainly what I needed to hear.  It wouldn’t surprise me if there are others who need to hear that same message.  If so, I hope this post proves helpful.


Jun 1 2009

The Wind and the Spirit

Yesterday was a very important day for Christians.  It was Pentecost Sunday.  On this day we remember how the Holy Spirit came in a special way on the day of Pentecost.  You can read about this marvelous event in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.  I chose to preach from this passage yesterday, as I’m sure many other ministers did. 

As I’ve reflected today on the gift of the Holy Spirit is has occurred to me that when the biblical writers refer to the Spirit of God that images from nature are often used.  In Acts 2 the coming of the Spirit is accompanied by wind and fire.  At Jesus’ baptism the Spirit descends upon him in the form of a dove.  The earliest reference to the Spirit is in Genesis 1:2 where it says “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

In both the Hebrew and Greek language the word for “wind” and “spirit” are the same.  Jesus himself brought attention to this connection in John 3 when he said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Often when I am out enjoying nature I remember this connection and sense the Spirit of God as the wind blows on my face or on the subjects I am photographing (like these poppies found near Gorman, California).   For those with eyes to see and ears to hear the Spirit of God is still hovering over the waters, and the forests, and the deserts, and all of Creation. O, for eyes to see and ears to hear!

–Chuck Summers