Post 31/2021 Saturday 24 July . . . The phrase, “Wait right here,” may echo in memory as an exchange between two or more people at a sporting event, shopping, or, as currently, the Elkhart County 4-H Fair (July 23-31). Stand still. Don’t move. Don’t get lost. “I’ll be right back. Wait.” Who in the ordinary course of daily life is able to wait patiently? I dealt with the topic in a message residents at our continuing care retirement community can tune into in a worship service on Sunday.
Message for a Sunday worship service
Wait right here is the title of a message I prepared this week and videotaped as part of a worship service to be telecast on July 25 on Greencroft Goshen’s internal TV channel. I based the message on Psalm 27 and the poem, On His Blindness. by John Milton. (Some readers may want to skip to photos from the week).Here’s a condensed version:
Impatience rises when we have to:
- Wait behind three shopping carts at the grocery.
- Wait for what seems like a long time for your food order to come from the restaurant kitchen.
- Wait at a train crossing.
- Wait for recovery from an illness or wait for next steps while facing healing of mind and spirit when healing for the body languishes or is denied.
- Wait for the global pandemic to be over.
- Wait for the heat waves to vanish.
- Wait in the frightening shadows that try our souls.
There’s plenty of waiting to go round these days. We long for answers. Answers for ourselves, for our loved ones, for those on the frontlines of Covid response, for our neighbors near and far, and for answers to all the other issues, great and small, that cloud our times.
Where is God? Why? Who’s at fault? What’s next?
Do the opening words of Psalm 27 reassure us? “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
Are the cares of the world too much with us night and day to clearly hear these words of divine presence and protection? The Psalm concludes: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
There’s a good chance that you are acquainted with the poem by John Milton, When I Consider How My Light is Spent, believed to have been written between June and October 1655.The English poet was at mid-career when his blindness was almost complete. An editor years after Milton’s death gave the poem the title, On His Blindness.
Milton played several roles, that of poet, politician, prose writer, translator, and more.
At this dark moment of transition in his life he comes face to face with the implications of blindness. He fears that not being able to exercise his one talent would be an affront to God, referencing the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, through my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. . . .
In Matthew, the master of slaves gives each a varying number of talents, an amount of currency, before he goes on a journey. Two of the slaves make a good return on the talents entrusted to them, in fact, doubling them. The third, digs a hole and hides the talent entrusted to him, fearing the ruthlessness of the master.
This slave stands to account on the master’s return, offering the same amount back as he had been given. The master responds, “As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
John Milton feared that his incapacity, his lost talent, buried by blindness, was like a death sentence. We do not know what the talent is he can no longer use because of blindness. It may have been his inability to do further translation work in the numerous languages in which he was versed. He could still write poetry and other works by dictation.
Milton finds an answer to his quandary. Patience intervenes:
But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
There’s his answer. Stand and wait. The answer includes a surprising statement: “God doth not need / Either man’s work or his own gifts. Who best / Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.” Wait, even as “thousands at his bidding speed, / And post o’er land and ocean without rest; / They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Waiting need not weigh us down. One may be on the disabled list, as for a tennis tournament, a ball game, or test positive and prevented from taking part in the Olympics.
God has others to carry on, to rush about at God’s bidding speed. The word to us is, “stand and wait.” Be actively still. Bear the light yoke. Be ready to act at the proper time. Wait right here.
There’s more. One may have been a civic or church leader, a person in the pew, an individual about town, one of wide renown; now that one is at a stage of life where being supersedes doing. You may find in your circumstance that your talent is gone, even though, like Milton, you want to serve your Master therewith. Nevertheless, your doing talent is irretrievably gone.
Fear not. Fret not. “Stand and wait.” Bear God’s “mild yoke.” Be freed and blessed in waiting. As children of God, our life flows on. Take heart. Trust, hope in God.
“Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14
Happy reunion with family from afar
Elkhart County 4-H Fair Senior Queen Pageant
Bloomers ever rising to delight
Live flows on.