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"Call Waiting"

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:03 pm    Post subject: "Call Waiting" Reply with quote

No one likes being put “on hold.” Especially when the other person has initiated the call. Why call if you have something or someone else more important to deal with? We’ve never added the “call waiting” option on our phones, but recently the service became automatic. I confess that I now look at incoming call numbers and occasionally put someone on hold. Yes, even someone I’ve called in the first place. While I’d never condone the habit, I have realized the value of call waiting. Sometimes I’m trying to juggle several projects that are interrelated, and information from an incoming call may affect the current conversation. Sometimes it really is important that a person waits.

During the Christmas season familiar biblical figures repopulate our imaginations: Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna. And, of course, the shepherds. They were, like most Jews, waiting. Though Scripture tells us that Christ came “in the fullness of times” (Gal. 4:4), Israel was a community without such eternal perspective, put on hold in the forge of waiting and wondering. For four hundred years wondering if Anyone was on the other end of the line. Was God intentionally quiet, working on “related projects,” or had He forgotten the call?

The anxious wondering of the faithful has striking biblical precedent.

An earlier Israel was also put on hold for four centuries. Spiritually disintegrating in Egypt, ancient Israelites questioned where the God of their ancestors was. Hadn’t YHWH made promises to Abraham? Yes, He had. Promises that included a call to be at the center of God’s international mission. But God’s people were, for purposes known fully only to God, put on hold.

Abraham himself experienced call waiting. Only after responding to God’s dramatic call was he informed that generations would pass before the full blessings would arrive. One reason for the long wait: “the sin of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Gen. 15:16). Apparently there was a related and interconnected divine project, broader in scope than the call of this man. And the maturation of Abraham’s faith was woven into the divine plan. He became a spiritual sojourner in a precarious solitude, “not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). His heavenly Shepherd broke the silence only rarely during the hundred years between Abraham’s first call and his death. It was apparently a perplexing silence, one that drove the patriarch at times to engineer his own solutions. He went to his grave with a call on hold, with virtually nothing in hand except a hope that sometimes failed him. He was buried next to Sarah in a cave he had purchased, ironically, in “the Promised Land.”

Abraham’s descendents living in the times of Egyptian or Roman rule – or in the 21st century – cling to promises and calling that easily fade into questioned memories. Like our forebears, many of us sojourn in silence, waiting for a conversation to resume, for God to speak once again. This month’s word of encouragement is dedicated to those spiritual shepherds who haven’t heard God speak for a long time. Shepherds I’ve spent time with who used to have clarity of direction but now, like Abraham, “don’t know where you’re going.” Wondering what to do without the Shepherd’s leading. We have no control over when God will reengage us explicitly. Living in that liminal zone of spiritual call waiting requires the daily discipline of hope – resisting despair which knocks incessantly at our door. May God give you the grace to wait with hope until He appears again.

He will. In His time.

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.” (Ps. 130:5)
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Joined: 25 Oct 2010
Posts: 3
Location: Glenburn, ME

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:38 am    Post subject: Call Waiting Reply with quote

Thanks for that message. I am currently a pastor on hold, wondering if I ever should have been a pastor, having resigned from a church I served for nearly 15 years, my first charge after seminary. It was difficult to discern God's call to leave. I like to be settled and I am very tolerant of stress and very patient with people. But I am sure God lead me to leave, and like Abraham, I don't know where I am going next.

Now I consider myself on Sabbatical. I can support my family by working full time for the US Postal Service. I have time to reflect on and evaluate my pastoral experience. I am learning from your book about many additional skills that I was not before consciously aware of practicing, and some that were neglected. I had a lot of growing up to do in those 15 years. I say, "One day I will grow up to be a good pastor." I am still working on that.

What I am thinking about most is whether the leaders today are so much encouraged to be visionary, that they are not tending the flocks very well. I myself am not so much visionary, but love to care for the people. I believe, as your books seems to be saying, that a healthy flock will grow on its own. But a lot of pastors seem to spend a lot of time in the market, increasing their flocks by "buying" more and more. And denominational leaders seem more inclined to prefer that kind of pastor to take positions in leadership. I wonder if I might be "left on the shelf."

I know several pastors locally, of other denominations, who have said they would love to have me on staff, to do the part of the work that they don't have time for. For now I am hoping that God calls me to a new supportive role within my current denomination. We would love to move back to the Midwest from Maine.
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Joined: 02 Jul 2012
Posts: 12
Location: United States

PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 6:51 pm    Post subject: Finding the trail Reply with quote

I recently went hiking with my wife in NC, we got lost! This is the way I feel now that I am close to finishing seminary. I have been working in the non-profit sector for the past 4.5 years working with homeless families. I am seeking God's direction as I try to see the future of the ministry I now serve. Do I say here? Do I reach out to other ministries? Is God is teaching me something in the time I still have at Family Promise. I feel like I am holding waiting for that "whisper" of God's voice in my life. I have worked full time and gone to seminary for the past 3 years. Starting to feel like I am swimming upstream. I know in my heart that God is building character and burning the chaff off in my life. Waiting has always been very difficult. Blessings!
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