No one likes to wait. Remember staring at presents under the Christmas tree? Or arriving famished at your favorite restaurant and the maître d’ tells you 90 minutes? Or standing in line forever at Disney’s Space Mountain to get to the sign that says, “Time from this point: 2 hours.”
The archetypal wait of my life was waiting for our daughter to be born. It took us a long time to conceive, so I was very excited about the pregnancy. I tummy talked from the very start. I could hardly wait for the arrival. But, as often happens with first children, our baby was late. Finally, the doctor said, “If nothing happens by day 10, we will induce.” We induced, and even then, Ellie still wouldn’t come. We walked the maternity floor’s hallways for hours. She took so long I actually got to deliver my daughter myself. Seriously.
With a onesy on my head I hovered over the doctor during the delivery like an umpire. I was so close he finally said, “Matt, two don’t fit down here. Either back up or get in here and deliver this baby yourself.” So I did.
After another push…our wait was over.
The season of Advent is all about waiting. Waiting and watching. We want to get to the end, but we have to wait, like waiting for a baby who refuses to come.
Perhaps you are doing some waiting in your life. Perhaps the waiting and watching are overcoming you. If that is you, consider the lyrics of a waiting pregnant woman’s song: In Luke 1:46-55 the virgin Mary sings a song known to history as, “The Magnificat.” Mary sang, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Mary too, in need of a savior, instructs us on waiting. From Mary we learn: How to wait, why to wait, and to whom should we look as we wait.
I. How to wait:
In Mary’s wait, Magnifying the Lord and rejoicing in God made a difficult wait easier. Yes, an angel of the Lord had come to Mary and told a virgin she would bear a son, and yes, Mary acquiesced willingly. But doing things God’s way would have gotten complicated quickly: The glares from a distance, the clucking self-righteous with their rumors and innuendo, the shaming taunts, “An angel you say? We aren’t as naive as that fiancé of yours.” No wonder Mary sought solace in another expectant mother, a relative conveniently located in another town. Yet, in her soul, Mary magnified the Lord. Mary teaches us to wait exercising the sacrifice of praise.
II. Why Wait?
48 he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. For Mary, God is thrice dependable: God sees Mary. God does “great things” for Mary. And the mercy of God is not just for Mary, but for all “those who fear him.”
III. To whom should we look as we wait?
Notice the completed tense verbs in v 51-53… 51 He has shown strength with his arm…scattered the proud, 52 …brought down the mighty…exalted those of humble estate; 53 …filled the hungry…the rich…sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel. Mary lists seven ways God is faithful. Seven, the number of God’s perfection. All are expressed as completed actions, even though they still have not come to pass. It is an airtight case laid out in song that God’s character is utterly dependable: “in remembrance of his mercy,55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Waiting is hard. Waiting is lonely. And I have noticed, that when I look for my deliverance from the wrong sources, waiting is discouraging. It doesn’t take a NASA scientist to realize that our deliverance will not come through human progress, or politics, or the goodness of family and friends, not even through a great romance. Yet we continue to look for deliverance from sources that cannot deliver. The Lord is the only source who will not let us down. Magnify Him!
What are you waiting for?
At a crosswalk when someone doesn’t know which way to go, they stop and clog traffic. Often, we wait because we don’t know which way is forward…in other words, we’re lost. Interestingly, the Bible says we are all lost. Some people think that the Bible says we are evil and need obliterating. But the Bible actually says we are lost and need to be found…that for most of us our problem isn’t badness, just lostness. What do lost people look like?
-Lost people pursue the world and what it offers.
-Lost people come to believe that the way to have a great life is to try to control it.
-Lost people think that somehow money or sex or power or pleasure can fill the deep ache inside.
-Lost people think there is another source of life besides the God who created us then joined us 2,000 years ago to redeem us when we wandered off and became lost.
Have you lost your way? In your relationships, your work, your calling, your parenting, your desires, your values – have you lost your way?
We all get lost. The ancient prophet Isaiah said it like this: “All we like sheep have gone astray.” Lost sheep need to be found. Only in “God our savior” can our spirit rejoice in a true and lasting way.
Mary tells us at the end of her song that God is great: The “mighty one.” But God is also good, “his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”
How merciful is God? So merciful that Jesus went to a cross to rescue lost folk just like us. In fact, later in Luke’s gospel Jesus says it straight out, “I came to seek and save the lost.”
Could Jesus be talking to you?
Waiting is frustrating. Waiting in the dark can be terrifying. Being stopped in the middle of a crowded intersection, being bypassed by a world that appears to know where it is going feels like hell. But the Good News is that God seeks and saves the lost. And, as Mary shows us, we can wait on God, because God always follows through on his promises, so much so that we can behold them as already accomplished when we behold them with eyes of faith.
What are you waiting for?
In the eternal realms the beginning of all things being set right is at hand. Wait on God. The ultimate finder of the lost is worth the wait. Wait on God. The time for our delivery is at hand. Let him bring you new birth. Wait on God. When you do, you will find in your waiting, that the Lord will make your heart sing too.