It’s the most natural human thing to find yourself waiting. Our young people have been waiting on their exam results. The athletes in the Olympic Games have been waiting for the Games to begin. We wait for our summer holiday to come around. People wait for the day that their wages will be paid into their bank. We wait for news. We wait for help. We wait for deliveries to arrive.
The wise person tells us that we spend half our life waiting and we know it to be true.
As you heard, waiting is the central idea in the Gospel. Two ideas are conveyed: the first, someone is about to arrive, we know that they are coming and even although they are delayed we are expected to wait on them. When they come they will be so pleased that we have waited that they will sit us down. The other idea is someone who comes unexpectedly, we have not been waiting on them, if we had then we would have been prepared. This person is a thief and if we had been prepared and waiting then they would not have robbed us.
2 ideas are represented here. One group is waiting and are ready, the other group caught napping and gets robbed. One group gets rewarded, one group ends up out of pocket.
Its clear. If there is a message in the reading it is this, that the Lord wishes that his disciples for a date in the future when he will come again but also for the here and now, should be ready, itching to go, waiting for the gun to go off, on their marks. Whatever this should turn out to mean. That they should not be caught napping. Its implied that havoc will come on them if they are not ready, like a householder who doesn’t bolt the door, secure the windows, the thief will get in.
Ready, alert, primed, like those runners in the Olympic Games when the gun goes off to come out of the blocks at high speed – this is the idea being conveyed. Unfortunately that doesn’t describe most of us. Life distracts us. Our eye goes off the ball.
Not all waiting is easy. Frustration comes when waiting, why does it take so long? Anger comes when we are asked to wait – what wasted time! Powerlessness comes – events spin beyond our control, we can’t speed things up, we can’t control how things go. We are blind – we can’t see how things are going to work out, we realise we can’t see round corners, we simply have to wait to see what is coming.
Like ordinary human life in many situations we are asked to wait, so it seems also that God asks us to wait. We are asked to wait. Wait for an answer to our prayers. Wait to see the way ahead for us. Wait to see what his will is. Wait to see what he expects of us.
Generally we are not happy in being asked to wait, we want it now, this moment, right here. We want the answer now, we want the consolation now, we want to know what to do now!
Like any waiting there is frustration – why does he not act now; why does he not answer me now; why does he not send help now? There is anger: why has he left me alone in the situation, why is there no answer; what is the purpose of all of this? There is a sense of powerlessness and blindness, we can’t do the thing ourselves, we can’t see the point, we can’t see the way ahead, we don’t know why he wishes us to do this.
But often he simply asks us to wait ---- for come he shall. It might seem that he is delayed but he asks on us to wait. He might come in the first or second or third watch, but come he will. Maybe in the end we are defined by the fact that we are prepared to wait for his answer, for his guidance, for the things he will say.
All things come to those who wait, we wisely say to others but often we don’t believe it ourselves. Wait for the ship to come in we tell others but are not sure that we believe it. Time and tide wait for no man we say but we don't hold to it. .
It’s true we spend half our lives waiting. But you know there are some things worth waiting on.