Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Stature of Waiting

A Figure of Enormous Dignity:  Imitating Christ and Accomplishing the Will of God Through Times of Sickness and Waiting
A Compilation from The Stature of Waiting, W.H. Vanstone

By Heidi Dixon

John 9:4 “We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work.”
It is made explicit in John’s Gospel that Jesus’ time for ‘working’ is limited.  In His encounter with the blind man whom He healed on the Sabbath, Jesus is explaining that He must ‘work’ even on the Sabbath because His time for working-the ‘daylight’ period-is limited.  Within that period Jesus must do all His work because ‘daylight’ is to be followed by the ‘night’ which, for Jesus as for mankind in general, must mean the end of work.  P.30 

John 11:9-10 “Are there not twelve hours in the day?  If a man walks in the day he does not stumble because he sees the light of this world:  but if a man walks in the night he stumbles because the light is not in him.” 

So the period for ‘working’ is limited; but John makes it clear that, while that period lasts, Jesus is not only commissioned and sent to do the Father’s works:  He is also free to do them.  During the daylight period His freedom to work cannot be fettered or restrained…Throughout the daylight period John shows Jesus free to work, in accordance with the Father’s will, beyond the restraint or interference of human hands, even of those hands which, at one point, would have ‘taken Him and made Him King’.   

John 17:4 “I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do…” 

And so, having used the daylight period to the full and without restraint, Jesus is able to announce at the end of it the completion of the work which is both the Father’s and His own:  He says at the Last Supper, ‘I have glorified Thee upon earth:   I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.’  And thereafter, significantly, we hear no word more about the work of Jesus.  P.31 

John 13:30 “So after receiving the morsel, he [Judas] immediately went out; it was night.”
According to John’s account…when Judas leaves the Last Supper to set in train the handing over of Jesus, John tell us ‘that it was night’… which must mean that the ‘daylight’ period is over and that the time foreseen by Jesus has come-the time at which ‘no one can work’, the time at which ‘working’ must give place to ‘waiting’…and is also associated, in a most striking way, with the end of Jesus’ freedom from restraint by human hands…”from working to waiting and from freedom to constraint.” P.32 

John 18:4-6 “Then Jesus, knowing all that was to befall him, came forward and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?  They answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’  Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’.  Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.  When he said to them, ‘I am he’, they drew back and fell to the ground.”
“The ultimate dimension of the divine glory becomes manifest in him when he was handed over.”
John 19:28:  “I thirst”
The Jesus who said, ‘if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink’ becomes He who says, ‘I thirst’…”He who has previously exercised the power to judge…stands under their power of judgment; and now He who has previously promised and dispensed the water of life to others becomes the recipient of their refreshment…The handing over of Jesus was His transition from working to waiting upon and receiving the works of others, from the status and role of subject to that of object, from ‘doing’ to ‘being done to’.  P.33-34
John 19:30  “…It is finished…”
“According to John, the final word of Jesus on the cross was ‘It is completed’:  and this final word was preceded, a moment before, by His perception that ‘all things were now completed.’…at the Last Supper, before He was handed over to passion, Jesus announced that His work was completed.  Evidently, therefore something other than ‘work’ must be completed before ‘all things’ are completed and before the triumphant cry can be raised that ‘it is completed’.  Something beyond ‘work’ is necessary to the completion of Jesus’ function or mission or calling…” p.71 

More from The Stature of Waiting

*      “It is not necessarily the case that man is most fully human when he is achiever rather than receiver, active rather than passive, subject rather than object of what is happening.” P.52 

*      “Waiting can be the most intense and poignant of all human experiences—the experience which, above all others, strips us of affectation and self-deception and reveals to us the reality of our needs, our values and ourselves.” P.80 

*      “[In times of waiting] Usually rational considerations overcome dread and we do not ‘run away’.  We count it weakness or cowardice if we do; and we also count it weakness if as we wait, we find ourselves hoping or praying that that which lies ahead—that which is ‘for the best’—may not happen…There is weakness—pardonable weakness, but nevertheless weakness—in hoping or praying to be ‘spared’ that which we know to be for the best…One waits at such moments in an agonizing tension between hope and dread, stretched and almost torn apart between two dramatically different anticipations.  A wise person will then steel and prepare himself for the worst; but the very tension in which he waits shows that hope is still present, and that hope will often express itself, even in unbelievers, in the urgent and secret prayer, ‘O God, let it be all right’.  In such hope and prayer there is no weakness, no failure of nerve:  torn between rational hope and rational dread, one may properly pray for the best while still prepared for the worst.  Perhaps it was in such a manner that Jesus waited and prayed in His agony in the Garden.” P.81

*      “Need or dependence can disclose not only our own deficiency, but also –and often to a remarkable degree—the power and value of people and things in the world around us…The need which constrains him to wait makes him also a point of heightened sensitivity, of more intense receptivity:  in and through him more is going on than in the figure, who, experiencing no need, has no concern…” p.100

*      “Without receptivity, the world exists simply as physical fact…Beauty, as opposed to physical fact, appears within the world when a butterfly’s wing is seen by a human eye and when its potential for beauty is actualized in a human mind.  So when a man receives and recognizes the beauty of a butterfly’s wing he is no less enriching the totality of the world than when, by art and skill, he creates—if that were possible—a thing of equal beauty.  A man who receives and recognizes the beauty of a garden is no less enriching the totality of the world than a man who works upon and creates a garden.” P.106 

*      “He must not see it as degrading that he should wait upon the world, be helped, be provided for, be dependent; for as such he is, by God’s gift, what God Himself makes Himself to be.  That man is made, by God’s gift, to know and feel his dependence on the world is no less a mark of God’s image in him than that he is made, also by God’s gift, to know and feel his capacity for acting and achieving.” P.104 

*      “God creates a world which includes among its infinite variety of wonders this culminating wonder—that there are points within it at which, in the consciousness of men, its wonders are received and recognized…that man receives the world; and as he does so, a figure exposed and waiting, he appears no diminished or degraded figure but a figure of enormous dignity.” P.107 

Personal Note:  If you are reading this, it is because I see you as “a figure of enormous dignity”.  Without the help of this book, I would never have been able to explain why.  It is my hope that these ideas give you a greater peace and confidence about what you are going through, its place in God’s will for the completion of your mission, and increased gratitude for Christ going before us and showing us how.  If you are receptive, and “can choose to accept what you did not want and even what you would not have wanted at any price”, it will produce tremendous spiritual fruit for you and those who are blessed enough to walk with you, even if only for a short time.  Thank you for your example and letting me be one of those who benefit from it.

 Peace, Love and Gratitude,

Heidi Dixon, Chaplain


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