Active Waiting with the Trinity

Active Waiting with the Trinity

Active Waiting with the Trinity.

“They who patiently hope in the Lord by weaving together aspects of their lives with Him, will find their strength renewed. Trusting in the Lord, they will be able to lift off and soar like the eagles. When they are running their race, they will never get winded or weary; when they are walking through life, they will never become tired or give up.”  (Isaiah 40:31).

WAIT: “qavah,” a common Hebrew term in Scripture for “wait,” which has a literal meaning and a figurative meaning. We get a fuller understanding of ‘qavah” and what it means to “wait” in the biblical sense, when we combine the literal with the figurative:

Literal Meaning of Qavah: the process of weaving together separate strands into one; braiding together what is needed for wholeness; binding together by twisting and entwining tightly. Examples of this root word for wait would be braiding hair, twining rope, twisting strands together for a cord. To wait in this sense is not passive, but active; not a waste of time, but a useful time; not something to avoid at all costs but instead to redeem as fully as possible; not the time for seeking distractions from potential boredom, but a time to recognize it as an opportunity.

Figurative Meaning of Qavah: to actively hope with patience; to maintain a persistent faith; to peacefully trust in God; to be content in the midst of delay; to live in eager anticipation; to engage in the spiritual activity of listening for/to God; to alertly watch for God in the midst of uncertainty; to look for God’s guidance and presence; to have a faithful expectation of what has been promised by God; to prepare oneself for whatever comes next; to “collect oneself,” to actively “get it together.”

The Purposes of Waiting: to gain and renew strength; to learn dependence on God; to flesh out one’s submission to God; to grow spiritually; to make progress in spiritual discipline; to gain wisdom and understanding; to keep from making rash or unwise decisions; to cooperate with God in His transformation of us; to continue securing one’s intimate union with God; to grow in patience and hopefulness.

While-U-Wait = Participate in our union with the Trinity as we weave together our own personal strand with the three strands of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

“Because of His glory and goodness, He has given us great and precious promises, so that through them you may escape from the world’s corruption due to disordered passions and human desires, and may become partakers of the divine natureparticipants in His nature, sharing in the divine life of God.” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Before the divine invention of time, before the foundation of the world, the triune God existed in a profoundly intimate community of three Persons. Because God is love, they created the world so they could share that intimacy with the human race. They did not hoard their eternal love for each other, but instead they included humanity in their relationship. In creation, God shared His life with humanity, providing a truly life-giving relationship with Him. The Spirit of love binding the Father and the Son has proven to be the energy source of all the love in the world. The trinitarian relationship became the engine of the universe. Without the virtues within the life of the Trinity, there would be no virtues in the world, no truth, goodness or beauty. The passionate interaction within the Godhead is the spark of communion that ignites the presence of intimacy in the world. The original source of everything right in the world lies within the everlasting togetherness of the Trinity. “The great dance of life shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the womb of creation.” (Baxter Kruger, The Great Dance).

Inside the Trinity. Yes, Christian believers have God in us, but we are also in God. We have the Spirit of God inside us, true, but we also are in the Holy Spirit. Because the triune God is united and inseparable, the Father and the Son is everywhere the Spirit us. If the Spirit dwells in us and alongside us, so does the Father and the Son. If the Father and the Son have promised to make a home in us, the Spirit is right there as well, arm-in-arm in their trinitarian Presence, establishing a dwelling place in us. Since we are welcomed inside the relationship of the Trinity, the Spirit helps make that happen. Since we are adopted into God’s family as His children, we can be sure the Spirit was a part of that process. We can be assured the Spirit will work to sustain us in the trinitarian circle and fellowship. “The prime purpose of the incarnation is to lift us up into a life of communion, of participation in the very triune life of God.”  (James Torrance, Worship, Communion and the Triune God of Grace). Our spiritual life is a matter of deepening our union with the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, They inside us, and us inside Them.

“God is faithful to do what He says, and He has invited you into partnership with His Son, a life of communion and participation in His life. God has called you to co-share the very life of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 1:9).

There is a mystery to the depth of unity between the three-Person’d God. Their love for each other is too deep to understand, yet close enough to experience through Christ. St. Bernard of Clairvaux once tried to describe the intimacy within the Trinity this way… “Surely if the Father kisses and the Son receives the kiss, it is appropriate to think of the Holy Spirit as the kiss.” We do know from John 14:10-11 and 17:21 that their communion is such that they are somehow inside each other. They are so closely knit that when you know the Son, you know the Father. And when you see the Son, you have seen the Father (John 14:7). Father and Son have enjoyed an intimate oneness, with the Spirit being their bond of love, since before the foundation of the world. And the triune God wants us to participate in the unity of their Family circle, the Son in us and the Father in the Son (John 17:23). Both the Son and the Father have always desired to share their home life with us (John 14:23). We are called to literally live within the Trinity, inside their relationship, being more intimate with God than with any other person (John 14:20). The Christian mystic Elizabeth of the Trinity once wrote that one of her spiritual disciplines was “burying myself, so to speak, in the depths of my soul to lose myself in the Trinity who dwells in it.” 

Welcomed into the Circle. The Trinity’s profound love for each other has resulted in their sharing that love, their including humanity in their interaction. We have been called to participate in their life-giving intimacy, in their divine fellowship. We have been offered, through Jesus, the amazing privilege of sharing in their companionship. In Christ, we can now open our eyes to see the truth of our life inside the Trinity. Christ has succeeded in uniting the holy Trinity with fallen humanity, and the result is mankind’s inclusion in the life of the triune God. Inside the circle, we can now experience the very same love that the Father shows the Son (John 17:26). We can now confirm that the Father will love us just as much as He loves the Son (John 17:23). As Baxter Kruger says, “We don’t make Jesus a part of our world. He has made us a part of His.” We now can know our true identity, living in the circle of the Trinity, our true selves hidden within the joy and love of their intimacy.

Baptized into the Trinity. James Houston once wrote that “God is infinitely relational and intimately personal.” The wonderful mystery is that it is God’s nature to be relational and personal with the human race. When we are baptized into the Name of the Trinity, we are restored into God’s own bosom, received into the triune life of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Their relationship is now our relationship. Their reality is now our shared reality. We thus have a joyful place within their circle. When we are baptized into the Name of the Trinity, our eyes have been opened to our permanent destiny within their life. We have become new creatures with a new identity. We thus celebrate our adoption into God’s trinitarian family. “Go therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19).

Union with the Father.  It has been suggested that Jesus wanted to communicate the nature of His Father in this pivotal parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. Jesus here shares His own experience with Abba Father. He in  effect defined the meaning and substance of the Father in this parable. In Jesus’ mind, this is what His Father looks like. He in fact is redefining the inaccurate picture of the Father as an overbearing ogre full of power and authority, who loves to punish and threaten, who at times is distant and indifferent and other times a cruel taskmaster. Jesus paints a picture of the Father that contrasts with all that, a Father as Abba, a kind and forgiving God who wants what’s best for each person, a Father who genuinely cares for each person in the human family with an eternal love, who desires an intimate personal relationship with His children. Doesn’t Jesus’ picture of the Father here make you want to be His child? Consider the actions and attitude of the father in this parable:

  1. A father who didn’t take offense when personally rejected by his son and asked to split his inheritance before the father even dies;
  2. A father who patiently endured humiliation at having his own son waste his inheritance;
  3. A father who responded with compassion when his wayward son returns home penniless;
  4. A father who was actively waiting for his son to return, on a continual lookout for his defeated son, a father who seemed poised to show mercy;
  5. A father who publicly degraded himself by running, which fathers aren’t supposed to do, to meet his son;
  6. A father who physically embraced his wastral son, saving him from the eventual village gauntlet;
  7. A father who continued to pour out grace and compassion by repeatedly kissing his renegade son. This is a reversal of the typical scenario in which the repentant son is expected to kiss the father’s hands or feet;
  8. A father who restores the prodigal son to full family status, giving him the father’s feasting robe, the family signet ring, and a pair of sandals that would distinguish the son from hired servants;
  9. A father who threw a huge village feast with a fatted calf, feeding at least 100 people. Instead of rejection, the father threw a celebration;
  10. A father who would absorb another public insult by leaving his post as the host at the feast in order to search for his ungrateful elder son;
  11. A father who patiently accepts the elder son’s unwarranted insult and bitter attitude.

This is how the Son pictures the Father. Who wouldn’t join His family?

Union with the Son. Yeshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus. It means Yahweh who saves, or the LORD to the rescue. Yeshua, or Y’shua, is a common form of the Hebrew name Yehoshua, which translates to Joshua. The name Jesus is actually an English version of the Greek version (Yay-soos) of the Hebrew Yeshua. And since Greek was the common international language used when spreading word about Yeshua, Jesus (Yay-soos) is the name most of the world ended up with. Yeshua is the name most commonly used by Hebrew-speaking Christians in Israel and followers of Messianic Judaism. The name Yeshua represents His Hebrew identity, and anyone who called Jesus by His Hebrew name while He was on earth would have called Him Yeshua. An attempt to approach the Person and ministry of Jesus by unpacking his special Hebrew name:

Y – Yahweh

E – Exorcist

S – Story-Teller

H – Healer

U – Unorthodox

A – Audacious

When God said to Moses His Name was I AM WHAT I AM, any curious person might follow that up with… I AM what, exactly? The Great I AM is mysterious, impersonal and abstract. Jesus anticipated this question by offering to fill in the blanks with seven homespun metaphors in the I AM tradition. All seven are in John:

  • I AM the Bread of Life (6:35) who nourishes you with solid, spiritual food;
  • I AM the Light of the World (8:12) who enables you to shine in purity, goodness and truth;
  • I AM the Door (10:7) to the sheep pen who will welcome you to God’s flock;
  • I AM the Good Shepherd (10:14) who will guide, feed and protect you as a member of His flock;
  • I AM the Resurrection and the Life (11:25) who will raise you from the dead into eternal life;
  • I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life (14:6) who will provide the way to truth and abundant life;
  • I AM the True Vine (15:1) who will provide what is needed to bear good fruit in your life.

Serving as mini-parables, these common, plain-spoken sayings of Jesus made it more difficult to complain about the lack of clarity about the Great I AM. Jesus, by expanding the Name of Yahweh, went a long way towards clarifying the nature of God. By claiming to be in union with the Father, Jesus made it clear that He wasn’t merely a super-prophet, a master teacher, a miracle-worker, or a story-teller. With His I AM declarations, Jesus is claiming divinity. By saying I AM, Jesus claimed the holy Name of Yahweh as His own.

is for Exorcist. Many scholars have noted that Jesus conducted more exorcisms than any historical figure on record. Casting out demons seemed to take up just as much of His time as physical healings, and in fact, His ministry usually included both forms of healings together. “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons…”  (Mark 1:32-34). Jesus revealed His authority over physical ailments and over spiritual possession. In the spiritual realm, not one demon ever successfully resisted the commands of Jesus. As soon as the demons saw it was Jesus, they knew their days were numbered. It is heartening to see that Jesus was just as concerned with the spiritual world as He was the physical world.

is for Story-Teller. One could say that the imagination is the intellect at play. Or that it is reason listening to a story. Of course Jesus, who invented the human mind, planned the learning process to include the capturing of the imagination. The master teacher, Jesus loved to express His vivid and inspired imagination whenever He could. He loved to tell stories, all kinds of stories, depending on the audience and the situation. At one point in His ministry, He evidently told nothing but stories to the crowds (Matt. 13:34). His favorite method of teaching seemed to be through parables, extended metaphors. These parables included simple, everyday realities, which had universal appeal and drew the audience in, wherever He was, whoever He was with. One can make the case therefore, as Kenneth Bailey does, that Jesus was in fact teaching theology through His parables: “Jesus was a metaphorical theologian. That is, His primary method of creating meaning was through metaphor, simile, parable and dramatic action rather than through logic and reasoning. He created meaning like a dramatist and a poet rather than like a philosopher.”  Some of His stories were simpler than others, but all of his parables were rich with kingdom meaning, and were in Bailey’s words, “serious theology.” Therefore, parables are deep theology, learned indirectly, through a divinely inspired imagination and a winsome, compelling personality. Jesus proved to be a seriously playful theologian who effectively used His imaginative stories to teach the truth, throwing them into the mix of people he encountered.

is for Healer. We know that Jesus healed people, all the time, but here’s a question… why? Why did Jesus heal people? Was it some moral obligation He felt? Did He compel Himself to heal because the people expected Him to do so? It’s clear that, from the start of His public ministry, Jesus was a healer far beyond what the people had ever seen.   We can’t put Him in a box with this part of His ministry. There is no can’t-miss formula; no magic words; no consistent style; no lack of variety of people and occasion and brokenness. His mercy is deep and sometimes mysterious. Sometimes faith seems to be needed for a healing. Other times faith didn’t seem to be a part of the action at all. Sometimes he touched, sometimes He was touched. Sometimes He spit, sometimes He just spoke the healing into existence. Sometimes He forgave sins during the healing, and sometimes He didn’t. Sometimes he was thanked, and often enough He was forgotten soon after the healing. Sometimes He told everyone not to say a word about the healing, and sometimes He told them to spread the word. Most of the healings were immediate, but there was a time when there seemed to be more of a gradual process (Mark 8:22-26). Jesus was an equal opportunity healer, confidently healing unexpected people in unpredictable ways. He loved to heal, to bring wholeness, whenever He had the opportunity. He still does. After all, Jesus is love.

is for Unorthodox. Jesus was highly unorthodox for His time regarding social relationships. His various friendships drove the spiritual elite wild. He was anointed by the tears of a repentant prostitute in the home of a Pharisee. He invited Himself to dinner with a notorious tax collector. He was a friend of sinners, a companion of women, a welcomer of children. The Pharisees accused Jesus of being a glutton and a drunkard. “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Jesus to hear Him teach, and the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!‘ (Luke 15:1-2). This in itself was scandalous, since eating with someone in that culture was a sign of acceptance, an offer of friendship and trust. Jesus welcomed the lost sheep and befriended them, of all things. And Jesus remained the Good Shepherd to all those lost sheep who were living outside of the flock.

is for Audacious. Jesus was an unpredictable, audacious bundle of extreme qualities. He would ignore His mother, berate the religious, forgive the adulterous, befriend the rip-off artist, kiss His betrayer, stare down a storm, call His most faithful apprentice a name from hell, weep at a death, tend bar at a wedding reception, whip the tar out of unwelcome salesmen, hug the children, touch the untouchable, welcome the lepers and lunatics. In fact, many considered Jesus so audacious as to be a lunatic himself, including His own family at one point. Well, they thought, if he didn’t suffer from temporary insanity, he certainly acted the fool. As it turned out, a holy fool, for during His life, he somehow learned to successfully juggle grace and truth.

When Jesus was tender, He seemed to almost wilt. When He was angry, there was a scary flash of fire in His eyes. When He mourned, He was a puddle of tears. And he often aroused those same extremes in others. In fact, He started His ministry by igniting His hometown with flammable speech; He continued it by answering somber questions with bewildering stories which often bordered on the comic; and close to the end, He irked His accusers with unflappable silence. Throughout His life, His version of sainthood was never sanctimonious.

In the earliest days of His earthly life, Jesus was a Savior fetus in a teenager’s womb. Then soon a God who wet diapers, a Co-Creator needing to be burped, the Lord of the universe nursing at his young mother’s breast. A few years later, He was the heavenly King with seared flesh and punctured scalp, passively facing mockery and torture. It’s a toss-up as to which of those two mysteries, the Manger Messiah or the Dead God, are the most incomprehensible and scandalous. Fortunately, this holy fool’s last juggling act was of life and death, and He somehow managed to juggle both. When the juggling act was over, He gladly performed a lively courtroom dance before the King that will last forever. YESHUA: “There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books.”  (John 21:25).

Union with the Holy Spirit. The eternal life-giving Third Person of the Holy Trinity; the intimate bond of divine love and truth shared by God the Father and God the Son; the dynamic power of God offered to every human being on earth; the supernatural Presence in the Community of God who is personal without being material; the invisible creative force with divine intelligence who truly knows the mind of God from the inside; the Spirit of God who thus has all knowledge and is present everywhere in the universe; the sacred energy streaming forth from the Father and the Son, pouring love into our hearts (Romans 5:5), producing virtuous qualities in us (Galatians 5:22-23), and gradually transforming each believer into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God’s eternal Spirit was present at creation, of course, “brooding like a bird over the watery abyss.” (Gen. 1:1, MSG). No surprise there. All three Persons of God existed together eternally before creation began, and they will be intimate spiritual companions forever after the world’s recreation as well. At creation, the Spirit was like a mother bird hatching an egg, bringing beauty and order out of nothingness and chaos, waiting to take us under His wing.

Because the Triune God is united and inseparable, the Father and the Son is everywhere the Spirit us. If the Spirit dwells in us and alongside us, so does the Father and the Son. If the Father and the Son have promised to make a home in us, the Spirit is right there as well, arm-in-arm in their Trinitarian Presence, establishing a dwelling place in us. Since we are welcomed inside the relationship of the Trinity, the Spirit helps make that happen. Since we are adopted into God’s family as His children, we can be sure the Spirit was a part of that process. We can be assured the Spirit will work to sustain us in the Trinitarian circle and fellowship.