Sunday, January 22, 2012
Trinity Church, Bradford
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: Psalm 62:6-14, Mark 1:14-20
Sometimes we find ourselves waiting. I can think of several kinds of waiting. For example, there is the kind of waiting that happens when the world seems to stop, when doors close for us, when we cannot do the things we hoped and wanted to do. It is the kind of frustrating and soul searching waiting that we must do when further opportunity seems to dry up. Another kind of waiting, perhaps related to the first, is the waiting that takes place when we are so overwhelmed by the changes and chances of this world, with our work, with our families, with our responsibilities, that in our all of our overwhelming busy-ness, we are waiting, longing, to just make it through the day. And yet, there is a third kind of waiting, a waiting of a more intentional sort, the kind of waiting that takes place deep within us, a silent waiting and longing to become who we are called to be, to enter into the plan that God has for our lives, a waiting to hear his voice.
“For God alone, my soul in silence waits,” writes the psalmist. What is the purpose of my life? What am I supposed to do while I am on this earth? What do you want me to do, O Lord? Why did you create me? These are all the questions that resonate at some deep level behind that statement, “for God alone, my soul in silence waits.” We wait to hear the answers to those questions, for they are not simply questions about what I shall do with this life on a day-to-day basis; no, they are questions about who I am. They are questions about my identity that God alone can answer.
The Gospel of Mark reminds us that it is in a time of waiting that God meets us. Simon and Andrew, James and John, were hardworking fishermen, involved in the endless cycle of casting and drawing in their nets, day after day. Were they waiting for something? Was there something that would draw them out of their daily task into something better? Four fishermen, upon the sea – casting, waiting, and drawing in. Their life, their very occupation was one of much waiting. And then Jesus appeared to them with his message: The time is fulfilled, the waiting is over, the kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe in the Good News. Their waiting was interrupted and they took that incredible risk of laying aside their work. The four men took the risk of leaving behind their life of waiting, and put down their nets and followed him. As their souls had ever longed to break out of the busy cycle of their lives, so God indeed met them in their waiting and called them forth.
There was something about these fishermen that predisposed them to hearing the call of God, though. I wonder if it was their habit of waiting. I wonder if in the combination of busy-ness and drudgery of their work, they had cultivated a pattern of waiting. They cast their nets, they waited, and they drew in. The pattern of their work became the pattern into which God entered to call them forth into something new.
The difficulty for many of us is that we lead such frenzied lives that we scarce can find the pattern into which God might be woven into our lives, much less the place where he might enter in. If we look a little further, though, I think we will all recognize that we are waiting for something. Are we waiting for a better job? Are we waiting to move into a new home? Are we waiting for that child or grandchild to come along? Are we waiting simply for better times? It is into this waiting that God casts his fishing net. It is into this waiting that he reaches out for us. In our waiting and in our longing we are seeking to be filled by things temporal, but God knows our true hungering and thirsting, and in that time of waiting offers us living water, bread from heaven; into this longing for things temporal, he fills us with things spiritual.
However, we shall not be surprised if the spiritual food upon which we are fed transforms not only our inner landscape, but our exterior landscape as well. We shall not be surprised (or maybe we shall!) when we see that our lives change on the outside when they are transformed on the inside.
When the disciples were waiting, Jesus called them. Not only did they hear the call they recognized the power of the call. As the psalmist also says, “God has spoken once, twice have I heard it, that power belongs to God.” The disciples not only heard the call, they believed that the one who called them had the power to change their lives. The call resonated doubly within their souls and they became fishermen of another sort, turning in their earthly nets, for spiritual nets. Where once they lived a life of mundane purpose, they now lived for God.
This is the hopeful message of the Gospel, that in our mundane waiting, in our troubled waiting, in our angst-ridden waiting, in our lonely waiting, Jesus turns that waiting into a kingdom moment. The waiting that seems to make us so distant from God is the very means God uses to manifest his kingdom. The question for us will be, as it was for the disciples, will we answer the call? Will we take the risk of turning in our nets for new and better ones? We will believe that the time of waiting is over and that the kingdom of God is at hand?
c. 2012, the Rev. Daniel F. Graves