Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Are You Wishing... Or Waiting?

When I was learning to ride horses as a young girl, I discovered, rather suddenly, a passion for English Pleasure. English riding requires entirely different tack than I was already using for Western-style events:  a separate saddle, blanket, and bridle, not to mention all-new show attire including britches, riding jacket, helmet, and boots. This was an expensive dream and we were a one-income family. I wondered, “How is this going to work?”

My Dad was a very soft hearted and compassionate man who spoiled me rotten. Very few times in my life did I hear the word “No,” but this was one of those times. I knew my dad’s heart and his desire to give me every opportunity. When he said “No,” he meant it and I could tell that this particular “No” broke his heart nearly as much as it did mine. 

To make matters worse, my very best friend also decided she’d like to ride English and her parents had all of the needed equipment in her hands within a few days. Meanwhile, I was babysitting, doing extra chores, and trying to find ways to earn the money I needed to pursue my new dream. I waited for what seemed like a lifetime.

That Christmas there was a large, baffling box under the tree. It had my name on it but for the life of me, I couldn’t guess what might be inside. Christmas morning finally arrived and when I began to open the box, the saddle flap, compressed beneath the box lid, flipped out. I let out one of those “ugly” cries and I was sitting on my dad’s lap hugging, and thanking, and bawling before I ever took the English saddle out of the box. 

Waiting involves a measure of expectation. When we wait for something, there is anticipation that we’ll see the thing in our lifetime. Without the hope and belief that it will soon arrive, we’re not really waiting, are we? That’s more like wishing, then forgetting we ever wished it and feeling surprised when it actually happens. Waiting is different than wishing. It includes watching and preparing for the thing with expectation that it will, at last, take place. 

I had fully expected to own an English saddle and gear eventually, and I was working hard to attain it. When it came with such surprise, this thing I had so deeply desired and prepared for, it’s arrival looked different from anything I had imagined. It was overwhelming and beautiful! As of today, even though I haven’t ridden a horse in nearly 30 years, the saddle still hangs in the rafters of our garage. I don’t ever plan to let it go. 

This precious memory, especially because its culmination was at Christmas, makes me think of the nation of Israel and their long wait for a Messiah. The nation waited with expectation and hope, and they looked forward to the coming King who would offer deliverance and salvation.  Micah 7:7 expresses such expectation beautifully, saying, 

“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD ; I will wait for the God of my salvation.” (NASB)

The Hebrew word for “wait” is the transliteration Yachal, which means to wait, hope, expect.

At the appointed time, Israel's wait for the Savior was over. The angel Gabriel brought the news, not to the priests or the king, but to an unsuspecting young girl. The news came in a way that looked differently from anything the people expected or imagined. They’d continued to wait and watch for centuries, and when the time came, God sent His messenger to a town in Galilee called Nazareth.

The coming of the Christ was overwhelming and beautiful. The salvation that Israel anticipated and awaited was delivered for more than the Jewish nation - it is for you and me. Only by the blood of Jesus can we enjoy relationship with God. Only by His atoning sacrifice that was provided not only for us but instead of us, can we receive redemption.  Our sin, all of it, which creates a deep chasm between the Lord and us, is washed away and the chasm bridged by the work of the cross. Having Jesus in my life makes me want to leap into the lap of my heavenly Father, hugging, thanking, and bawling for such a precious gift.

God provides in ways that exceed anything we can ask or imagine. Israel expected political deliverance. Instead, God brought a ministry of reconciliation for eternity by loving the world so much He gave his only begotten Son. I’m thankful for the words of Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth who, through the Spirit, immediately recognized that the child in Mary’s womb was the Lord:

 “She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!” (Luke 1:45, HCSB). 

Believe, beloved daughter of the King, and be blessed.  Don't just wish, but wait with expectation for the truth which you believe. God's promises never fail. 

Be strengthened today, by the Word,

Psalm 119:28

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