“But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance…. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” 2 Peter 3:8-15
Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Today we light the candle of peace.
We need this candle because we suck at waiting. A few days ago, I had to go to the bathroom the same time that one of my kids decided he needed lunch. In my mind, my need was more pressing than his so I asked him to wait, but the entire 3 minutes I was using the loo he sat outside knocking, asking if now could I make him lunch.
Now are you done?
Now can I have lunch?
By the time my hands were washed we were both impatient. Him for food, and me for him to be able to wait, which is such an irony of parenting- being impatient for your kids to learn patience. But really after 4 kids and a decade of parenting, I just want to be able to pee in peace.
We love the idea of hope, but we hate the waiting. When we know something is coming, but we don’t know when, we get all up in God’s business like a five year old knocking at the bathroom door. These stories are as old as the bible, like Abraham sleeping with Hagar when he was waiting for an heir, Jacob scamming his way into a blessing, or the Israelite’s building an idol when they were tired of waiting for Moses.
What a wonderful gift hope is, but as time ticks by, and we long to know when!? Did we hear Him right? Maybe we didn’t understand. Maybe He decided we didn’t really need what He promised after all. Or maybe He wants us to take responsibility, maybe He wants us to do something.
Advent is as much about looking forward to Christ’s second coming as it is remembering His first. Peter was writing to people who were frustrated that Christ had not yet returned. They were tired of waiting, but he was trying to explain that time for God is not how we see it. It was a long time for the world to wait for the first Christmas, and in that we take comfort, that we are not alone in our impatience as we continue to persevere towards the next.
Peter says, “While you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace.” A promise is easy to hold and exciting at its beginning and at its fulfillment, but the long, unending middle stretch requires the gift of peace. We need a tender touch to let the promise lead, grow, and fulfill the way it was meant too.
The main thing I learned hiking with a toddler this fall was the importance of peace while waiting. A hike is not so different from a promise, you start with the excitement of a destination, and then a long time wondering if you’ll ever get there, how many more switchbacks, and how much further up the hill, and you’re thrilled when you finally arrive. The hard part is that toddlers don’t actually hike, they wander, and wandering behind them when you’d rather be hiking is maddening. They can go on for a long time in this manner though, and for quite a distance. If I don’t push, my toddler and I might walk 5 miles before the sun sets, but if I grab his hand and try to make him skip over all the amazingness at his eye level we will barely walk one. Maybe two if I have a pocket full of candy to offer up as a bribe.
You can’t force God’s promises to come true. We can’t push our spouses into a role we think they should fill, or rush our kids into His plans for their future. We shouldn’t hustle our way into more money at the expense of our relationships, or give up waiting and entrust our joy to any of the old, regular, earthly idols.
Last week we prayed for hope, but Lord, this week we ask for peace. That we could hold that hope and trust it with our future, our joy, and for the growth of those around us. We pray to receive patience as salvation, and for the peace to hold onto our hope with endurance. Amen.