12/8/12 Catherine Outten, (C’09) Lay Chaplain
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’
They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.
‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. -Luke 21:5-19
As someone who appreciates schedules, daily planners, and completing tasks, I often jump to two questions after I am charged to do something: When is this due? and Why is this important? I am not very patient and, when given a task, do not delay in creating list after list in order to not only reach the goal, but reach the goal above and beyond what is expected. I want to know what is going on and how I can help to make something the best it can be. While efficiency and hard work are good qualities to have, they can be taken to the extreme. Oftentimes, I find myself uneasy and anxious when the plan is no longer within my control.
Jesus is asking me to do something quite difficult in this passage: accept that something out of the ordinary and challenging is about to happen and “Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom...” Wait...what? No thanks, Jesus. I would much rather have a plan of attack on the front end of this. I have never been a patient person because I confuse patience with negligence.
If this is my way of thinking, I’m not ready. I can’t stand up for what I believe without giving up control and trusting in God. So far, I have learned that trust and patience go hand in hand. During this season of Advent, I will try with hope, joy, and patience to wait for the coming of Jesus. I will aim to continue to work hard and at the end of the day, let go of my anxieties and trust that God is in control. With prayer, worship, reading scripture, and countless people to help me grow, I will have the courage and excitement to “stand firm, and win life.”