Thursday, December 8, 2022
Reader: “This is the word of the prophet Habakkuk.”
Response: “Thank you Lord for these words of wisdom, truth, and perspective.”
Scripture: Habakkuk 2:1-5
I will climb up to my watchtower
and stand at my guardpost.
There I will wait to see what the Lord says
and how he will answer my complaint.
Then the Lord said to me,
“Write my answer plainly on tablets,
so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.
This vision is for a future time.
It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
for it will surely take place.
It will not be delayed.
“Look at the proud!
They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked.
But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
Wealth is treacherous,
and the arrogant are never at rest.
They open their mouths as wide as the grave,
and like death, they are never satisfied.
In their greed they have gathered up many nations
and swallowed many peoples.”
As you read, watch, or listen to the news today, notice the content of all the stories. How many of them are based on anything beyond the immediate circumstances? Virtually none. The nature of news is to tell us what is happening right now or plans for the near future from a human perspective. With all our devices, often as an outgrowth or an appendage on our hand (!), we can almost be present as the “present” is happening! With this daily and intense bombardment of the present tense, is it any wonder we have difficulty grasping a biblical vision of the present and future? We are stuck in sound bites.
These descriptions from Habakkuk seem so remote. It is far easier to believe and spend our time thinking and planning about those things we can see and hear. The immediacy and ubiquitous nature of the present can cloud the larger truth leading people to increased fear, anxiety, discouragement, depression, and apprehension. Such traits are certainly evident in our society.
Have you noticed the proud and crooked people are never at rest and often angry?. They are consumed with the present world and their own perspective of it. Their world and trust never move outside of themselves. Like the grave and death, they are never satisfied. The immediate is all that matters to them. Their trust is in themselves. For them, the bottom line is: “I can handle it.”
The idea of some future vision when the Lord will again enter our world bringing it to a close seems the stuff of fantasy or the product of an overactive imagination. While we may believe such thoughts intellectually or theologically, living practically with the truth of the Lord’s return and letting it shape our current fears, discouragements, and so forth is another story. It’s far too easy to live in the here and now with the “present tense” life occupying all of our attention.
This season of advent gives us an opportunity to retool. Having said that, Habakkuk helps us: This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. It will be fulfilled . . . it will not be delayed. Timeless truth.
These words of the Lord give us the antidote to dealing with drowning in the present: “The vision is for a future time . . . if it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Relax, God is in control. Good words for today and tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the . . . “it will surely take place.” Did you ever notice how much “waiting” there is in the Scriptures? Waiting is one of the primary building blocks of faith.
Music: “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” Caitelen
Lord Jesus, help us to not get so lost in the concerns and activities of the immediate world that the eternal world we cannot see seems unreal. Teach us, O Lord, to use this transitory life as pilgrims returning to their beloved home; that we may take what our journey requires, and not think of settling in a foreign country, the country wherein we now abide. Amen. –adapted from John Wesley (1703-1791)