Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:25-32 ESV)
The great 20th century poet, Tom Petty, once sang “the waiting is the hardest part.” Our team is experiencing the frustration of waiting as we are a couple of hours into a 12-hour layover in Seoul after a 14.5 hour flight. One praise is that we all were able to get some sleep on the flight, and some of us are feeling pretty well rested. The airport is comfortable and we are entertaining ourselves as you can see in the photo to the right...
But we are all excited and eager to reach our destination country in SE Asia. So the waiting is hard, and a bit grueling.
However, as we wait we are reminded how often the heroes of our faith were faced with situations in which they had to wait.
Abraham had to wait many years before the child that was promised to him was born. Joseph had to wait many years, languishing in an Egyptian prison, before God used him to influence Pharaoh and save his people. David had to wait many years, through the highs and lows of Saul’s kingship, before he ascended to the throne that was promised to him. And in the passage from Luke 2 above we read about Simeon, and faithful man of God, who had waited to gaze upon the promised Messiah. The text does not tell us how long he had to wait, but imagine what he must have felt, through the years, as he looked upon child after child being brought to the temple for dedication. And then one day, it happens!
Waiting is a part of missions. In fact, one of the partners we are working with in SE Asia had to wait for six years before they saw the first person, in the country they were working in, commit to follow Christ. Six years of planting seeds on hard soil praying for God to provide the growth. And then one day it happens! Waiting on God’s promises is a part of the life of a Christ follower.
The people we are trying to reach on our trip have been waiting as well. Waiting for someone to bring them the good news of Jesus Christ that will set them free from the false gospel of works righteousness. As one waits at the end of the night for the first rays of the sunrise, so these people are waiting for Jesus Christ, the light of the world, to penetrate their spiritual darkness.
So even though we have to wait for 33 hours to reach our destination, we recognize that God’s promises are true, and we are excited about what will happen when get there!
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9, ESV)