Wednesday Word: Waiting
Can we ever know what God has in store for us? -- I Witness, First Wednesday in Advent meditation
In the Advent discussion group which began this past Sunday, we did some looking back and looking forward. We started with the meditation for the First Sunday of Advent and talked about the process of waiting and discernment. Not all waiting is discernment, but all discernment contains a lot of waiting.
We talked about the process of waiting for a child that Zechariah and Elizabeth had been subjected to over the years before the arrival of John. We talked about times we had to wait and times we were discerning which way we might go in our own lives as we waited to figure things out.
In today's meditation, the author writes about Elizabeth that “she has no idea God has a plan.” That is immediately followed by the opening sentence of today's reflection.
I will confess that I get a little dubious when things happen and there is a response along the lines of, “It's okay . . . God has a plan and everything happens for a reason.” Yes, God does indeed have a plan, and we say as much in the Catechism. But not everything happens for a reason. Some things are simply accidents and some things are evil. God may work through various accidents and acts of evil, but to say those accidents and evil acts are the result of God's plan implies that God is pulling all the strings in our lives and we have no free will on which to act. But I digress . . .
As Christians, we believe that God's plan included the birth of Jesus, which also included the birth of John ahead of him to proclaim his arrival – to be that voice crying in the wilderness. And because of that, Zechariah and Elizabeth had to wait, unbeknownst to them, until the right time.
How would they have reacted if Gabriel had appeared to Zechariah when he was a newlywed and told he would have a son, but only after he was “an old man and his wife getting on in years?” How would I have reacted if, when discerning my own call, God had told me that I would have to sit with a family whose father and just been killed by a drunk driver, or be present with a new father whose baby died of SIDS? How would you have reacted if God had told you about a significant event in your life years ahead of time?
It may just be that the reason God's plan seems so slow in coming isn't because God is slow, but that God is waiting for us to grow enough to handle what we will be asked to do.
This Advent season, may you see this time of preparation and waiting not only as a time of preparation and waiting for the coming of the Messiah, but as a time of giving thanks for when you had to wait, only to learn that God was using that time to prepare you for what God had in store for you.