Waiting is Not About Magic

waiting-painting-by-G-A-DandekarI had a friend in college who prayed faithfully for a boyfriend.  And then she sat in her dorm room and waited, wondering why her divinely created Dreamboat wasn’t showing up.

Newsflash:  Waiting is not about magic.

I won’t go into the whole confusion about God and Santa except to say that – unlike tongue-in-cheek Sarah Silverman – I don’t believe that Jesus (or either of the other two persons of the Trinity) is magic.  And yet, many of us remain confused.

We pray our wishes will come true, but then we do nothing more than offer a minimal effort to work with God.  Example from Church World:

  • A church wants to grow and return to their former glory (e.g. full pews.)
  • They pray to The Almighty that their church will grow.
  • They try simple strategies:  install a new church sign,  hand out flyers, call a new/better pastor.
  • They wait.
  • Nothing changes.

Going out into the world to make disciples of all people is hard work.  It’s not about putting up a shinier sign or passing out pithy flyers or choosing a new leader.  It’s about Changing Everything: our souls, our perspectives, our wildest dreams, our expectations, our control.   Change is hard and most of us don’t want to do it.

Much of the world is waiting for food and water.  They are waiting for shelter.  They are waiting for grief to subside or for the meds to kick in.  They are waiting and waiting and waiting because they have no choice.

But we who have many choices can choose – during this season of waiting –  to believe in magic or to believe in Jesus’ message to go out.

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2 responses to “Waiting is Not About Magic

  1. Amen. This reminds me of the Daoist concept of “wu wei” which can be translated as “inaction”, but better translated as “effortless action”. By being in perfect harmony with one’s surroundings and able to change metaphorical direction instantly, the appearance of results through no effort or action is created while, in all actuality, there is constant change and occurring. It also reminds me of a family favorite saying, “God helps those who help themselves”. Thank you for the post 🙂

  2. Jan,

    I appreciate your observation about the desire that many churches have to return to an idealized past. Faced with changing external and internal dynamics, it seems there is a tendency to retreat inward, rather than to move outward. One historic church in our community recently closed, and another will likely follow suit in the not-too-distant future. At a time in which the cultural and ethnic fabric of the area was changing dramatically, neither wanted to move beyond its comfort zone and engage what is, admittedly, a very different world. You’re right that change is hard, and especially so, I believe, for institutions whose nostalgia for what used to be blinds them to God’s vision of what they are called to be, here and now. We can long for the glory days, and witness stagnation or even the death of our congregations, or we can allow the fresh winds of the Spirit to lead us in creative new directions. Thanks for your wise insights.

    Blessings,
    Martha

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