stuck between stations

by Suzannah Paul

6291281029_c9d404085b_z

Four hundred years was the echo of time between prophesy and that first advent.

Four hundred years of silence and waiting. And hope.

Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.

Bus stops, grocery lines, and hold music teach us to think of waiting as throwaway time, a way station between here and Where We Want To Be.

But in some sense, isn’t all of life a way station, this now-and-not-yet time between Christ’s resurrection and return? We pray and work toward on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven, trusting the Kingdom of God grows among us, but things aren’t right, not yet. Sin, death, and oppression abound. We worship things, objectify people, and pick each other’s wounds until they’re raw. Here isn’t Home, yet here we are, overwhelmed by longing for Eden’s shalom.

He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

It’s a troublesome tension: treading dark corners without despairing of them and holding onto hope though the waiting feels interminable.

I’ve played the waiting game. Looking for a job, waiting out a rough one. Trying to connect, to put down roots that take. Some days parenting is an exercise in being fully present, in not just waiting for second shift when Dad tags in, bedtime, or tomorrow’s new mercies, sweet Jesus, please.

I want to learn the discipline of waiting well. To not wish away this season for an imaginary ideal. I don’t want to despise the day of small things, missing today’s hallowed joys waiting numbly for tomorrow’s, real or fantasy.

Narrow expectations prepare us only for disappointment, and they’re the opposite of the kind of expectancy advent calls us to. Advent’s hope isn’t a perfect, selfish fantasy. Our hope is a Savior who bends low and pours himself out.

Waiting well prepares our hearts to love like that.

I wonder sometimes about the landscape of faith between testaments, during those four hundred years of scriptural silence. The Bible is mum, but surely God moved. His prophets kept no records, but wasn’t every common bush afire with God? Did the hills burst into song and the trees of the field clap their hands?

Even now, spring lies waiting beneath winter’s dormancy.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.

Can I trust God at work beyond all that I see, hear, and touch? Can I glimpse glory amidst the mundane?

Anna waits, her husband dead fifty years and without any man as her surety. Even in those barren years, the faithful kept watch. She worships and wonders, and she prophesies. God’s Word was never silent for those with ears to hear.

She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Word enfleshed poured out his Spirit, bidding Anna to speak as the prophets of old. Steadfast Anna, mouthpiece for God’s good work. Let lonesome exiles rejoice: Emmanuel has come.

They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

Blessed are they who wait and mourn and the expectant ones who hope.

{re-worked from our archives. image: Sigfrid Lundberg }


8 Responses to “stuck between stations”

  1. Dan McDonald December 12, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Thank you for this blog. For four hundred years there was silence before the birth of the one who brought to us redemption. Their silence in waiting makes them brothers and sisters to us and us to them, for we wait for the day of the perfecting of redemption as they waited for the birth of redemption. Let us wait with action as well as with patience bringing what love, mercy, and justice we can into our world as we learn such things from him. Might we wait in this way? Thank you very much for focusing us as we wait.

    • Suzannah December 16, 2013 at 11:52 am #

      “with action as well as with patience”–yes, indeed. thanks, dan.

  2. Diana Trautwein December 13, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    Lovely, Suzannah! Thanks so much for these ruminations on waiting. . . we surely do need to know how to do that well, don’t we? (And what exactly is ‘hold music?’ Or is that ‘h’ not supposed to be there?)

    • Suzannah December 16, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      ha–in the last iteration, i had it as Musak, but that seemed esoteric. i just meant the music you hear on the phone when they put you “on hold.” :)

  3. Cara Strickland December 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Thank you for this, Suzannah! I absolutely get this, waiting right here with you, and watching.

    • Suzannah December 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      somehow even the somber watching and waiting of advent beats the frenetic rush of the holidaze. the feasting needs the fast. be blessed in the waiting.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks:

  1. Shawn Smucker – The Norman Rockwell Holiday That Never Happens (and other great posts this week) - December 14, 2013

    […] I’ve played the waiting game. Looking for a job, waiting out a rough one. Trying to connect, to put down roots that take. Some days parenting is an exercise in being fully present, in not just waiting for second shift when Dad tags in, bedtime, or tomorrow’s new mercies, sweet Jesus, please. […]

  2. Lingering Letters {a momentary pause} - Little Did She Know - December 21, 2013

    […] Stuck Between Stations by Suzannah Paul at Deeper Story […]

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image