There are two types of individuals: Those who are early and those who are late. And one will inevitably marry the other!
While dating the woman who would eventually become my wife, I typically would arrive to an event 15 minutes early. Jana, on the other hand, would show up 15 minutes late.
During the pursuit of one another, we have this uncanny ability to look past these minor inconveniences. But after the vows are made and the commitments binding, such habits are perceived incompatible and become the source of endless and heated "discussions."
Is there anything worse than having to wait for someone? Only if you are waiting at the wrong location.
Imagine being at a coffee shop for five minutes past the agreed upon time. Understandable and forgivable. Ten minutes? Slightly irritating and mildly inconsiderate. But 15 entire minutes? Time to text. But then you discover your friend has been there all along -- just in a different place.
Maybe this would explain why God can seem absent? Or at least inactive? Could it be that we are "meeting" in the wrong place or at least waiting for the wrong result?
The Bible reads, "First this: God created the Heavens and Earth -- all you see, all you don't see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God's Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss." (Genesis 1:1-2, The Message)
Since the beginning of time, the Holy Spirit has been on the move. Oriented toward action. It was the world that was lifeless, passive and empty.
God transformed the Earth before the Earth had time to ask or act. The Spirit prepared the way for the Word to create.
So it should be with the church. The spirit of Christ is alive and active in the world around us, preparing hearts and minds to respond and receive good news.
God loves people more than we do. But he also loves them before we do. So instead of waiting for our Heavenly Father to do something great, maybe we should search for where he is already doing greater things. My hunch is that he is where we would least expect him to be (or where we would least want to be) and where he is needed the most.
Jesus can be found amongst the lifeless, the passive, and the empty -- bringing life, grace, and peace. He is preparing the way for his word to be shown and shared by the church.
After 14 years, my wife and I have almost figured it out. Sure, there are times I am a bit impatient as I stand by the door or sit in the van. She has those moments where she doesn't plan the way that she should. But more often than not, we get where we need to go and arrive around the time that we should.
I pray the same can be said for the church as she follows the Spirit's lead.
-- Justin Farley is a church planter and lead pastor at Blue Bridge Church at Carmike Cinemas in Kennewick. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.