Tag Archives: promise

Waiting: The Threats

Part Three of Four Parts

Maybe there will be a miscarriage. Maybe the child will be ill or damaged. Maybe nothing will happen, and I have made this all up. The demons slink in and taunt, harass, confuse, lie, and distort. Feeding on our fear, they float in our minds like bloated carcasses.

Impatience, fueled by fear and lack of faith, has resulted in many an aborted Christ child. Dreams, wrenched too soon from the womb of God’s providence, die torn and bleeding in the back rooms of our souls. Fearing that the Promised One cannot be trusted to save us from ourselves, we join the tribe of those who attempt to seize the kingdom by violence.

Yet the promise always comes in the context of threats, writes biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann.

The land of promise is never an eagerly waiting vacuum anticipating Israel. Nor is it an unambiguous arena for faith. It is always filled with Canaanites. That is how the promise comes… It is the very land of promise, the purpose of the whole journey of faith, which causes the failure of nerve. . . .

God’s people always want to settle for something short of promises, because promises fulfilled remind Israel how vulnerable it is, how exposed it is, and how precarious it all is. Promiseless existence is safer. The Bible knows from the beginning that promises are always kept in the midst of threats. Tables are always prepared  “in the presence of my enemies”and if one would eat at the table, one must eat in the presence of enemies. The land is precisely for those and only for those who sense their precariousness and act in their vulnerability. (The Land, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1977, p 67-69)

Threats, in whatever form they come, tend to scare the wits out of us. We feel like puny grasshoppers compared to these giants. Possibly the greatest threat, according to Jesus, is the failure to believe, or the lack of faith. There is that time before the pregnancy shows and no one can tell what is inside, and even after one has something visible to point to, like a vision, a possibility, the first faint glimmerings of a new idea, when the actual outcome is shrouded in mystery, and the course of the life of the new one to be born is unknown to us. So we must nourish the invisible, the inklings, the suggestions, and the voice of some ethereal visitor who whispered something wondrous and unbelievable.

Whom could you tell? What would they think? Maybe your lover will understand and give his support. Maybe God will intervene in a dream. Maybe a wise old friend, whose own promise leaps in recognition of your promise, maybe the old cousin will understand.

But there is a long time of hours, days, months, and even years –year upon year, when much is hidden and only you sing in your heart of what is to come, the gift you will offer. And what to do until then?

Fall back on praise and being. Notice the leaf in the redbud tree outside your window, curled and brown crisp in the sun. Stand at sundown as the earth grows still and silence creeps into your heart like a cat and curls up and purrs.

“Blessed is she who believed that the word of the Lord would be fulfilled,” announces the cousin. Blessed are those who believe in the glad and amazing truth that sings in their hearts, trusting with Mary and her Son that all will be well and that they are highly favored.

Watch for the last installment, Part Four, of this series on waiting, The Surrender, coming soon.

This post adapted from the author’s book, Letters from the Holy Ground – Seeing God Where You Are, Loretta (Ross-Gotta) F. Ross, Sheed & Ward, 2000.

The Sanctuary Foundation for Prayer
Read more about prayer www.fromholyground.org
Contact the author lross@fromholyground.org, www.fbook.me/sanctuary
Follow at http://twitter.com/lfross

Waiting: The Promise

Part Two of Four Parts

How long can you carry the secret,
the gift of saving love,
before giving birth to it?

How long can you ponder things in your heart
and sit on the stone path in the sun?
After a while it becomes obvious
that there is something up your sleeve,
or under your tunic.

Someone’s delight is in you
and is growing bigger every day.

Some of us are called to bear children. All of us, male and female, are called to give birth to Christ. We carry God’s seed, a divine promise in us and for us. Each is called to conceive some aspect of the great promise of salvation. We are given the choice to surrender to it, to carry and nourish it, and give it birth on its terms in its time.

With such a call, we are at the service of powers greater than we are. We find ourselves as servants and handmaids, those who stand alert and ready at the door for the one they serve, who may come at any time. We belong to the promise and are given over to the promise. The child of the promise is the unique offering you, and only you, can give out of your love in the Bethlehem of your life.

What is it? Who is it? How is this done? We are each alone here. There were no witnesses when Gabriel came. One or two may understand, who are strong when we are weak, who have hope when we have despair, who have faith when we have none. For the most part we must face the rejection, fears, doubts, and devils alone. And then, suddenly in the dark comes the sharp all-encompassing pain of labor – so much more painful than we had ever imagined it could be.

It may not look like all that much, your child and your offering of yourself as a mother of redemption. It may seem a small thing compared to Mary’s child. The child you bear may be nothing more (or less) than the courage to get through a bad day, or a shred of hope you cling to like a broken raft in the midst of a churning sea.

Two signs may help you tell if this is your Christ child: first, a vision of the joy or beauty or love set free in the gift you offer; and second, your sacrificial suffering in the labor and delivery of that gift. Such suffering is not a consequence of abuse or injustice. This is the suffering of love, which is assailed by evil as it seeks to remain firm in its faith in the efficacy and power of God’ s suffering love on the cross.



how did she keep the promise alive,
the hope,
the word which was spoken to her,
through all the days and nights
while she walked the rocky paths?

What good could come out of Nazareth?
How can this be?
I have no husband.
I have no money.
I have no strength.
I have no hope.
I have no skill . . .

But he said, Nothing is impossible with God.

A secret between her and the angel,
a child growing in a hostile environment
and stillness at dusk
when the light slides under the horizon
leaving a golden smear of hushed anticipation.

She was like a tiny flame
in a sea of darkness


Watch for Part Three of this series on waiting, The Threats, coming soon.
Adapted from the author’s book, Letters from the Holy Ground – Seeing God Where You Are, Loretta (Ross-Gotta) F. Ross, Sheed & Ward, 2000.
Website  The Sanctuary Foundation for Prayer
Read more about prayer www.fromholyground.org,
Contact the author lross@fromholyground.orgwww.fbook.me/sanctuary
Follow at http://twitter.com/lfross