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Mission Devotional - December 2, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to wait expectantly for you during this season. And help that waiting to have a good result. Help it produce in us a growing desire for your presence, your rule, and your kingdom. Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 130:5-8

Journal: Where and how does God have you waiting these days? What are the frustrations? What is the fruit? How will you practice waiting during the Advent season?

Reflection: Advent is a season of waiting; there's no way to get around it. I don't know about you, but I'm not very good at waiting. In fact, it irritates and frustrates me. I'm terrible about waiting in long lines. I'm constantly frustrated when I have to sit in traffic. And it drives me crazy when my internet connection is slower than I would like for it to be. But I have to realize that like it or not, good at it or not, God always accomplishes something significant in each of us as a result of waiting. It is all over the pages of Scripture; person after person is put in a position where all they can do is wait on the Lord. Therefore, you would think that I would be more open and receptive to the idea of waiting than I am. Advent offers me the time and the space to get better at it, through practice.

There is a wonderfully awful dependence created when we have to wait on God. There is a vulnerability and a powerlessness in it. There is a trust required. Maybe God knew that we would forever be charging ahead into life, without thought and without intention (certainly without reflection) if he didn't stop us and make us wait. Or maybe waiting on him has more to do with the fact that we are not yet adequately prepared to receive whatever it is that he wants to give us. Saint Augustine saw waiting as expansive. He argued that the purpose of "unanswered prayer" was to force the expansion of our hearts. "Sometimes it is only a sufficiently expanded and enflamed heart that can take in what God intends to give," writes Robert Barron. Whatever the reason, God has made waiting a central part of the life of faith, so we'd best just accept it and try to get better at it. But how do we do that?

Here are a few practical suggestions that you may want to try during Advent. I know they may sound crazy, but they will help us to embrace, rather than escape or avoid, the practice of waiting. First, choose the longest line, wherever you may be. A very wise saint once told us that "If you want to find Jesus, go to the back of the line. That's always where Jesus is." Secondly, choose the slower lane of traffic. Slowing is actually a spiritual discipline that helps us be more open and attentive to God. Next, linger. Do not jump up and rush off. Stay where you are. Sit a while longer. Take in what is going on within or around you. Finally, savor. Savor your food. Savor your time. Savor conversations. Savor friendships. Savor time with your family. Enjoy every bit of flavor and joy that the things this God-breathed world has to offer. Who knows, by the end of the month you might not dislike waiting quite as much as you did at the beginning. In fact, you might actually come to like it.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Mark and Annemarie Dye are passionate about building Christian leaders to mobilize and equip the African Church for mission in the world. Pray today for the Dyes as they are currently traveling in the U.S. for meetings and to visit family.

The Volunteer Ministry Center (VMC) was established in 1987 and offers specialized services to the homeless and those within our community who are in crisis. VMC's programs support its two-fold mission of facilitating permanent supportive housing for those who are homeless and providing services to prevent homelessness. Pray today for the staff of this ministry as they reach out to the homeless community.

Closing Prayer:

Dear God,
I so much want to be in control.
I want to be the master of my own destiny.
Still I know you are saying:
"Let me take you by the hand and lead you. Accept my love and trust that where I will bring you, the deepest desires of your heart will be filled."
Lord, open my hands to receive your gift of love. Amen.
(With Open Hands by Henri Nouwen)