The Transfiguration of our Lord
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting… It is something that we do all the time. But have you ever really considered how much of our lives are spent in just waiting?
Jeff Davidson in his book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing Time” gives some really eye-opening statistics. According to him, the average person during the course of a lifetime will spend about five years waiting in line! Do we get frustrated trying to get in touch with people by telephone? And especially when we finally get through to a number, hear a seemingly endless selection of voice mail options, and then get put on hold waiting “for the next available operator” to answer? According to Davidson, we can expect to spend at least two years of our lives doing that! We can also look forward to spending six whole months sitting and staring at traffic lights that refuse to turn green. (Well, maybe not here in Sidney, MT – but I think we get the point!) And supposedly, the average person will spend the equivalent of six 40-hour workweeks just getting to and from the workplace! We’ll spend a year of our life looking for possessions that we have lost! We also spend an incredible amount of time waiting for appointments, picking up kids from school, making travel connections, and whatever. And I can go on and on.
These are interesting statistics, aren’t they? I have to admit that I find it difficult to believe their accuracy, but even if we were to spend only one tenth of the time in waiting that Davidson says we do – that is still an enormous amount of time!
If you are like me, you probably don’t like waiting very much. Not only because it seems to be a waste of time, but also because waiting is something that we cannot control. When waiting, we are totally at the mercy of persons or circumstances beyond ourselves - and that is something that is hard to accept!
Moses was in a similar situation in today’s first reading from Exodus. As we heard; “The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written out for their instruction.”... Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud.” (Ex. 24:12, 15-16)
That’s a whole lot of waiting, isn’t it?! After receiving his call from God to go up on the mountain, Moses experienced six days of nothingness. For six days, God left Moses “cooling his heels” in his mountain waiting room! And as far as we know, Moses had no TV or reading magazines to occupy his time - and because of the thick cloud cover, he could not even enjoy the view! Just six days of blank nothingness, with no assurance other than his faith in God’s promise that this waiting would lead to anything – anything at all!
Think of how different the Exodus story would have turned out if instead of waiting until the seventh day, Moses had given up on the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth day. If he had done that, he would not have met God – nor would he have received the stone tablets of the law. History itself would have been changed had not Moses kept on waiting and waiting for God to reveal Himself! But Moses stuck it out. Somehow he knew that if he wanted to meet God, he had to be willing to wait. He had to be willing for GOD to set the timetable as to when He would reveal Himself.
So often in our life with God, it seems as though we also have to wait. Nothing seems to be happening, which makes us impatient. When we pray, we want our prayers answered right away! When we are promised glorious, mountaintop experiences such as what Peter, James, and John had with Jesus in today’s gospel lesson, we want them now! Indeed, if we had our choice, we would want everything right now!
But God knows what is best for us. Like an infant child needing to subsist for months on mother’s milk or formula before he or she is ready for solid food, we too often need times of waiting before we are ready to fully understand and appreciate God’s love and gifts. Before God fully reveals himself to us, often we need to go through times of having to wrestle with doubts and fears that are in our lives. We need times of having to look deep within ourselves and ask what is really and truly important. What do we really most want out of life? Why do we want it? How badly do we want it? These are the issues and questions, which need to be dealt with and sorted out in the deepest depths of our souls. These are issues and questions which often require a lot of time for us to resolve – days, months, years – or even an entire lifetime of waiting!
But perhaps the most important thing of all about waiting is that we need to consciously “let go and let God” be in control of our lives - to affirm that God knows what is best even when - especially when –God’s timetable does not mesh with what we want. To trust that when nothing seems to be happening, it maybe for a good purpose that is beyond our understanding. To believe that even during the “down” times, God is working for us – and working in us – to make us ready to receive wonderful blessings and also to be able to give wonderful blessings to others!
This past Thursday I participated in a very special time of waiting. I received a call from Craig Averett that his father Bob was probably nearing the end of his life – and he asked me to come and be with him and the family. And for the next two hours we were there together in Bob’s room at the Extended Care as we waited for Bob to pass from this life. Sometimes we prayed – sometimes we just talked or told stories or even jokes – sometimes various persons among us (or all of us together) would tell Bob that we loved him and were blessing him as he was going to be with Jesus.
In one sense, we did not accomplish much during those two hours before Bob took his final breaths and died. But in another sense, those two hours of waiting were a sacred experience that none of us who were there would have traded for anything! Because during those two hours in which we were together waiting, we truly experienced the presence of God! They helped us to be fully ready for Bob’s death when it finally happened.
And so it was for Moses in today’s first reading. His time of waiting was a time of preparation for receiving the tablets of stone with the law and the commandment that God was going to give to him. Moses knew that God was present with him even when he was waiting to see the final glory – and indeed was making him ready for it.
So it is also with us in our lives. Through our eyes of faith, we know that God is with us even during the “waiting” times – and that God is making us ready to fully see and experience the glory of Jesus – just as the disciples did in today’s gospel.
Because of his willingness to wait and wait and wait, Moses finally was called by God to meet with him and receive his glory. Moses finally had his “mountaintop experience”! So did the disciples in today’s gospel lesson. And so shall we! So shall we!
Waiting may not be fun. But in the hands of God, it can be important and valuable for us. It can strengthen our faith and increase our hope. It can help us to wrestle with our doubts and fears and enable us to discern what is really and truly important. Most of all, waiting can help our hearts to get “in tune” with God so that we can better know God’s will and experience God’s presence in our lives.
Liturgically, we are going to be doing this as a church during the Season of Lent which begins this coming Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time of waiting, reflection, and preparation to help us get ready for Easter. May it be a holy time in which we grow as God’s people – so that we can better appreciate the joy and glory of Jesus’ resurrection.
Moses waited and never gave up. May we be like him in this, so that like him we can also – in God’s good time, know and experience glory and love and joy beyond measure. In Jesus’ Name! Amen!
Pastor George Karres
418 W. Main St.
Sidney, MT 59270