“Are we there yet!” A favourite cry of children on a long journey. Most parents say, “No, not yet.” Followed by a distraction. But wise parents do so by stoking the vision. “Still a way to go and then we’ll see white sands, crashing surf, deep blue sea, seagulls swirling about on the breeze; and best of all Nana with a cup of tea! Yay!!”
James takes the pragmatic approach. 7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. He then describes how the farmer waits patiently for the rain to make the crops grow. His approach is, be patient, after all other people are.
John the Baptist is impatient. 2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’
Jesus responds with a bit of vision. 4Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.
We need vision! We need almost to taste the coming joy.
Impatience casts a dampener on things. When I was four years old I got up very early on what I thought was Christmas Day, crept through to my parents, woke them up and asked, “Did he come?” in a loud stage whisper. My father rolled over and groaned, “It’s only Wednesday. You’re two days early. Go back to bed.” And it was a Friday in 1959. You can look it up.
It took the gilt off the ginger bread, all right.
Isaiah is superb at vison-casting.
and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
Within one sentence the wilderness is blossoming and singing!
He goes on a bit later:
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’
A little later still he says:
8 A highway shall be
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
(sing the following)
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
How did these men of God get their inspiration? Well, there can only be two ways. Their minds were enriched by the creative power of Scripture and their hearts fired by the creative energy of the Holy Spirit in prayer.
One of the burdens of being a Christian is that you know we win in the end, but my goodness, the end seems a long time coming!
And what’s more the progress towards that end is not a smoothe upward trajectory. It is up and down. The way is sometimes lit and sometime dark, sometimes joyful and sometimes fearful. It’s tough!
I am of course talking about the expectation we have of God coming to our aid. But patience is needed. Rome was not built in a day. Neither was Solomon’s temple. It took seven years. Mind you his palace took thirteen years to complete, so his priorities were already beginning to show towards the middle of his monarchy. He could not stay the course! He lacked patience – for all his wisdom.
Patient, faithful and passionate prayer will see God come to our rescue if our minds are formed by Scripture.