Wait for it . . . ” is a popularly used phrase. It bids our patience to wait for the sake of something more, something better. I have never been good at waiting; I always want to accomplish more in a day than there are hours to do it. I look for the fastest lane, the shortest line, and the earliest start—all in the name of productivity. I would not have done very well as either Elisha or one of the band of prophets who follow Elijah around. Three times Elijah tells Elisha to stay put; two times Elisha tells the band of prophets to stay quiet; and one time Elijah and Elisha are “standing by” the River Jordan. It reminds me of going to worship as a child with my parents and being told to hush and stop wiggling. What is going on here?
In the narrative, silent waiting builds the tension within the story as all parties anticipate Elijah’s glorious departure. At a deeper level though, the author/editor may have had the words of the contemporary writer of Lamentations in mind, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him” (3:25). In Elisha we certainly have a wait-er and a seeker on par with Ruth. (See Ruth 1:16-17.) Nothing will deter Elisha from receiving the blessing he seeks from Elijah, even if it means waiting. After all, Elijah himself fervently sought God and failed until he ceased all his striving finally to hear the “still small voice” of God (1 Kings 19:12).
I so want to rush ahead to see the light just over the horizon. But I keep rediscovering that God and I are better served by my choosing to stay both still and quiet and allowing God’s holy light to come to me.
O patient God, grant me the patience to wait and listen so that I may hear you speak before I go and do. Amen.
In the week leading to Transfiguration Sunday, the texts all deal with holy, transforming light; but they also speak to the awkwardness of waiting for and finally experiencing that light. Elisha’s is a stop-and-go pilgrimage before he sees the chariots of fire. Our psalmist proclaims the march of the sun across the sky while also waiting for the eschatological arrival of God’s justice for God’s people. Paul empathizes with the believers in Corinth who are having to wait and work to “give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” Jesus leads Peter, James, and John up a mountain where they wait and are terrified by the cloud of glory that overshadows them.
• Read Psalm 50:1-6. If your life was like the sun arcing across the sky from sunrise to sunset, where in the daytime arc are you right now? What justice would you like to take part in creating before your life sets in the west?
• Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-6. In what areas of your life do you feel blinded to the light God wants to shine there?
• Read 2 Kings 2:1-12. Think of a time you have felt most blessed by God. How long did you wait for that blessing? Was it worth the wait?
• Read Mark 9:2-9. Recall your last "mountaintop" experience with Christ. How would you describe it? How did that experience change you?
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