In the military, one quickly learns that life and military protocol are paradoxical. Sergeants bark out orders, rushing recruits here and there.
Enlistees are hurried into formations, chow lines, mobilizations and countless activities, with the aim of having everyone move forward as one unit.
Once in place, soldiers stand at attention, out of breath, sweating, tired, and loaded down with backpacks, body armor and weapons. An “at ease” order can follow, signaling what soldiers know as “hurry-up and wait.”
There are many hours of getting to the point of readiness, only to hear “at ease” or “wait.”
Simeon, in Luke 2:25-26, busied himself around the Temple for years, praying in humble expectation to see the Lord’s Anointed One. Simeon had become “at ease” in the Temple, “waiting for the comforting of Israel.”
Scripture says that “The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”
According to the Law of Moses, Jewish families conducted several ceremonies soon after the birth of a son. The child was to be circumcised, redeemed, and the parents (especially the mother) were to be purified. It was Simeon who took the baby Jesus into his arms and who praised God for Him.
Christmas is a modern time of “hurry up.” We rush about to events and celebrations, sometimes to do the politically correct thing. We hurry to buy gifts before Christmas and wait for sales afterwards. But, if we look closely, we can see the Holy Spirit at work, and God having the final word.
At Christmas, we do a lot of good things, that often are not godly things. We may shop and cook to please loved ones and, when that’s finished, God may put us into a spiritual holding pattern, where we “hurry up and wait.”
All year we wait until Christmas to spend money we do not have for items we want. Afterwards, we wait for discounts on items we need. We wait on our paychecks to cover past due bills, using closely dated checks, and wait for them to clear. We wait on loved ones to call, or to visit us. We wait on the Holy Spirit to reveal our weak decisions, impatient practices, and our pitiful feelings about our poor financial condition. All the waiting forms a pattern of excuses that keeps us away from Christ, the church, and from private prayer with God.
In our society, in which youth is valued over wisdom, the advice of our elders is often discounted. As Christians, we must make an effort this holiday season to honor the wisdom of those who can teach much to our young people.
We can give the gift of friendship to others, and the gift of listening, in the service of God. While we need to “hurry up” with our efforts, we must wait on God’s signal to know when and how to accomplish our goals.
Salvation is like an Army mobilization exercise in which we are called into Christian service. We must put on the full Gospel armor found in Ephesians (6:13), and prepare for further orders. We must remember that we are in God’s Army, and that we must obey His call, and expect that the order will sometimes be, as it was for Simeon, to “hurry up and wait.”
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami. To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at firstname.lastname@example.org.