Thursday, January 11, 2018

Walking in twilight

Waiting is an essential feature of Christian faith. But there are different kinds of waiting. There's waiting in despair. That's epitomized by Ps 88. Despite the sense of utter abandonment, he reaches out to God, not because he has any expectation that God will respond, but because God is the only one who can change the situation. A prayer of bottomless desperation. 

Until the moment of death, waiting is unavoidable because something is always bound to happen next, for better or worse. Time can feel like a trap. There's always another day to get through. You have no choice but to wait it out.  

The psalmist is walking in twilight–but what kind? There's two kinds of twilight: dawn and dusk. One faces into the rising sun while the other faces into the night. Is it the twilight before sunup or the twilight before sundown? Is he walking into the night or walking into the light? Is the darkness lifting or descending? He can't tell. That's his dilemma. What awaits him? 

Sometimes Christians are walking in twilight. Is the worst behind them or ahead of them? Is it night until they die? Or is sunrise just over the hill?

There's another kind of waiting. Take a long journey home on foot. Home lies just beyond a mountain range. When he sets out, a pilgrim has no idea how many miles the journey will be. For weeks and months, as far as the eye can see, the end is out of sight.

But one day, at long last, the mountain range comes into view. Home lies on the other side, through a mountain pass. 

That transforms the pilgrim's beleaguered mood. Now the end is finally in sight. 

Yet mountains, because they're so huge, seem closer than they really are. Even though the weary pilgrim can see the goal, he still doesn't know how long it will take to arrive at his destination. Due to the optical illusion, the distance may be far greater than appears to be the case. You can walk and walk towards a mountain range yet not seem to be getting any nearer. 

Yet it's a different kind of waiting, once the end comes into view. Waiting in hope, with mounting anticipation. 

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