This Is Not a Passive Waiting

There has been something stirring in me the last few years. I have felt simultaneously discouraged, encouraged, shocked, hopeful, disturbed, and inspired by the state of American Christianity. It is truly difficult to put into words, and I am sure I am not alone.
But I am a writer, so I try; I write.
I was recently introduced an Instagram account run by a midwifery clinic in Haiti by the name of Heartline International. These women are brave and loving and do incredible things for new and expectant mothers there. They spend their days loving these mamas and their babies and quite literally saving lives. It is truly beautiful, holy work.
During the holidays they posted a photo with a quote from the book of common prayer which read:
“But this waiting is not a passive waiting. It is an active waiting. As any expectant mother knows, this waiting also involves preparation, exercise, nutrition, care, prayer,
work; and birth
involves pain, blood, tears, joy, release, community. It is called labor for a reason. Likewise, we are in a world pregnant with hope, and we live in the expectation of the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. As we wait, we also work, cry, pray, ache; we are the midwives of another world.”
This. This is so much of what has been stirring in my heart.
Are our hands idle while we say “come Lord Jesus”?
Prayer is powerful. I believe in it, participate in it. However we must pray and…
Throughout scripture we see a partnership between prayer and action. As one of my favorite verses in the book of James reads:
“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup — where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?”
James 2:14-17
Do we not see this very situation play out in our day-to-day lives? Our intentions are mostly good, but if we are unwilling to let our feathers be ruffled and our routines messed with, mostly good intentions are mostly useless.
Hebrew 11:1 reads “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Faith is the substance…the evidence. Faith is not some feeling or floaty, ethereal thought. Faith is what we do with what we believe.
This leads me to wonder, if we have faith in the power and the love of Jesus, why are we so often…passive, unmoved by suffering in the world? Is it because we may believe we are in the “end times” or that things are just going to get worse?
 Faith and action are the very core of our belief. Jesus could have come and just preached at everyone, but no. He healed, He listened, He got close to the messy and hopeless. Our salvation does not depend on our works, but the believability of our witness does. We act because we believe that this is what Jesus would do were He walking around this world like us again.
Yes, we believe Jesus is coming back; we believe in a new heaven and new earth, and that He makes and will continue to make everything new. Creation “aches and groans in expectation” and never has this metaphor seemed more literal. But it breaks my heart that almost every line of logic on topics of current events traces back to a passive eschatological stance or misuse of scripture.
I.e., “well this is all going to be destroyed and I’ll be in heaven so I don’t need to worry about taking care of the earth”, a misunderstanding of scriptures regarding not “loving the world” or inserting ourselves into some type of Old Testament war mentality.
“This is just a sign that Jesus is coming back soon” Is no longer an adequate sentiment to the anguished people around us, friends. And if that is our response as Christians to the horrors of this world, we may need to do some serious reassessing of our Theology.
We should care about people not living in hell until they “get to heaven”.
And what is even more heart wrenching, is that aside from turning our heads or excusing the tragedy, we often cause it and treat other (image-of-God-bearing) people unjustly for similar reasons.
“Our Father in heaven, reveal who You are. Set the world right; Do what’s best– as above, so below.”
Matthew 6:9-10 MSG
We cannot bury our heads in the sand while waiting for things to be made right.
 Do we realize that the disciples probably thought they were living in the “end times” too? They did not sit around and click their tongues at the state of things. They saw incredible things because they were not passively waiting.
What was the early 2000’s phrase we all loved in youth group so much? We are His hands and feet? His heels are not dug in. His hands not defensively thrown up. His eyes are open.
Ok. I’m “going there” for a minute. Please know that I write this with so much love and respect. I do not mean any disrespect to anyone who may have posted things on this topic. This is not coming from biased media on either end of the spectrum, only from my observation, my convictions, and my heart.
It is a gun problem. It is a heart problem. It is a mental illness problem. It is a racism problem. It is a violence problem. It is a fear problem. It is a pride problem and a refusal-to-repent-problem and a confusing-American-ideals-for-the-promises-of-God problem too.
We’ve got a lot of problems, basically…and that’s the short list.
The world can be so dark and scary and I admit that I want to run away and go into hiding with my family. A lot. But now is not the time to hide. Now we run to the darkness, to the ugly and shameful and painful and we breathe life. We bring hope and healing because this is what we claim as Christians. This is what we believe. This is our time.
We must not contribute to the fear, to the hate. We must be the diffusers of peace in our world. A “peace that rages” as I heard recently said.  If we run, let it be toward the pain and the mess with hope in our hands and compassion in our hearts. If we believe we commune with an infinite, loving, healing all-powerful God, and withhold ourselves from the hurting and destitute, what kind of cruel faith do we have?
Now, unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly what action to take, because I think this looks different for everyone. But don’t just talk about what you believe and wait for things to play out. Partner with God in His renewal-of-all-things. As above, so below.
 Bring meals, volunteer, donate, speak up for those who don’t have a voice, be friendly to waiters and baristas, care about the environment, diffuse arguments, go towards the injustice and put your foot down because where you go the Spirit of Christ goes. Just show up. Whatever it is, choose honesty, justice, mercy, compassion, and humility. Don’t sit this one out.
As Mother Theresa said, “Do small things with great love”.
It is time to act. However great or small. As the quote says, “work, cry, pray, ache”, but this is not a passive waiting.

2 thoughts on “This Is Not a Passive Waiting

  1. Kate, this is something that has been stirring strongly in my heart as well, but I have struggled to articulate so clearly (and beautifully). Thank you for pushing through the difficulty to find words and for taking the time to put this together and boldly share words that are reminiscent to the reprimand of a loving mother – stern, but backed by so much love and truth for the good of the children (all of us) that backtalk seems frivolous. It is obvious that this post is backed by prayer and study (and scripture) and I am immensely grateful to you for sharing.

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