Everyone I know is waiting.
They wait for a new house. A new baby. Healing from sickness. The end of one thing and the start of another. Twelve hostages, at the time of this writing, wait in Haiti, yearning to be free.
Simeon waited for years to see the Messiah, and when he saw him as an 8-day-old baby, he took the baby in his arms and blessed God, saying, “My eyes have seen your salvation.”
Anna, an 84-year-old widow, saw the baby also and began to talk about him to all who were waiting for “the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).
Are you waiting for redemption?
Waiting reveals two things:
There is something you lack.
You have hope that what you desire will be fulfilled.
To admit a lack takes humility. To admit a hope takes faith. Waiting is not easy, but if you do not wait, you may miss the redemption you could have had, as the Pharisees missed their Messiah.
During the holiday season I think of the incarcerated women I got to know through Bible studies at the jail, remembering how difficult this time of year was for them.
The women I knew waited for release, and not just the physical release of getting out of jail.
They waited for restored relationships, for release from guilt, for a new start, for the strength to do better — a strength they did not always believe would come.
Isn’t it strange that I, on the outside, wait for exactly the same things?
I am not big enough, strong enough or good enough to fulfill the needs in my own life or the needs of those around me, and I am noticing more and more that everyone lacks. Even my heroes have flaws.
“Getting old is no fun,” my father-in-law has told me. His brain can no longer remember basic things like names and daily tasks and how to carry on a normal conversation. His eyes are often clouded with confusion.
Scientists tell us that a brain with Alzheimer’s physically deteriorates, leaving holes in the places where memory once was.
I think of those holes in relation to my own need for redemption. “We all have gaps,” my dad used to say. “If you can see them in other people, you know that you must have them, too.”
Maybe you know a pleasant and bustling, pie-baking woman who gossips, who damages people with words in places they cannot defend — only she doesn’t see her words in that way. She thinks she is naming life as it is.
Maybe you know a pastor who hammers down a doctrine he believes to be important, who speaks from the earnestness of his soul without seeing that the young man in the pew in front of him is hurting in his heart.
What are your own gaps, your own failures in comprehending what is good, perfect and beautiful? The scary thing about holes is that you cannot see them, and if you do, you likely haven’t found them yet. Everyone has holes in the brain.
I think of this sometimes when I am frustrated by someone else’s lack of vision or lack of compassion. Maybe, I think, they are doing the best they can, but maybe they have a hole where I have matter. And maybe I have holes in some other area, and so I should forgive theirs.
Though I do not excuse sin, I know God is merciful. I think God judges righteously, making allowances for our holes. God can redeem the weakest and most imperfect human efforts.
Wait. Listen. Watch. God has prepared salvation in the presence of all peoples. Simeon and Anna waited and saw its earliest advent.
Wait a little longer only. Your redemption draws near.