Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespectful hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them. Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting – that is, of hopefully doing without – will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer (God Is In The Manger)
Yesterday I had the pleasure of traveling down memory lane. I was in Waco for a lunch meeting just a few blocks from the first church I served. After the meeting was finished I decided to spend a few minutes at a place I consider holy ground.
I was hired to serve this church as a wide-eyed 23 year old seminarian. I was short on experience and long in expectation.
The church had once been a thriving place in its heyday but failed to meet the needs of its surrounding community as the demographic and economic situation drastically shifted. The church aged, in facilities and congregants, and eventually shut down.
Enter a few people willing to use the building in order to reach a community. There were a handful of people who started the work prior to my arrival but I jumped in feeling the call of God and filled with the excitement of possibility.
I imagined hard work and mass revival. I imagined Bible study and immediate life transformation.
While significant ministry took place it looked less like immediate life transformation and more like a million baby steps, some forwards and some backwards. It was hard work. It was frustrating work. Yet, it was worth it.
Just today my wife and I communicated with a young woman who was a high school student when I served the church. I spent countless hours playing basketball with her and countless friends. In between games of 5 on 5 and snacks we talked about a Savior who took on flesh and walked among us. Eight years after those hoop games this young woman will soon travel on yet another mission trip.
Not revival. But worth the wait.