The Christmas story seems to feature a lot of journeying. Mary travels to Elizabeth's house. Mary and Joseph journey to Bethlehem to register for the census, they go to Jerusalem to present Jesus at the Temple, They relocate to Nazareth before finally fleeing to Egypt. Wise Men journey from far off places, and then take a different route home. Shepherds journey down dangerous hillsides.....
.....and Simeon makes a short journey to the Temple Courts.
There is a lot of waiting as well. The Jews wait for their liberation from Roman occupation, God waits for the right time to send his Son. Mary waits nine months to see the face of her Savior. Simeon waits to see the Messiah.
When Simeon encounters Jesus and takes him in his arms I wonder if he is elated or disappointed. God's promise that he has waited on all these years has been fulfilled. He finally gets to see the Messiah, and yet Messiah is a baby, not yet a Warrior or a Leader. God's promise has come true for Simeon, but the promise of liberation for God's people is going to take longer.
Simeon praises God and then hands Jesus back to Mary and Joseph, and then he walks away. He leaves his expectations of how Messiah should be and journeys home....where the waiting will begin again.
Journeying and Waiting seem to some up a lot of my experiences of the spiritual life. I wait patiently, reluctantly, defiantly. Waiting encourages me to surrender control, to give up what I think I know to be open to what God has in store for me. Like Simeon, I think I know how God's promises are going to look like when they come true, and, like Simeon I have to be open to being surprised.
Journeying does the same. Sometimes the hardest part is the decision to step away from what I think I know and journey into the unknown. There are so many things that I used to believe with absolute certainty that now I just shrug and admit 'I don't know'. Travel broadens the mind. Pilgrimage broadens the heart. Stepping deeper into the heart of God is a journey into the unknown, into uncertainty and mystery.
Journeying and Waiting seems to have been themes in my life since Thanksgiving. I haven't left Houston, but God's Spirit has invited me to wait in places that I wanted to run from kicking and streaming. People I love have patiently listened, encouraged me, and held my hand as I have journeyed into some dark places, and like Simeon in the temple, the end result of the journey is so different from what I would have imagined.
Are you in a season of Waiting our Journeying right now?
Are you a willing or reluctant participant in that season?
How can you step more fully into that season?