You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part – Tom Petty
Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.
We all know that feeling. We’ve all been five or six years old and experienced for the first time the nervous energy surrounding Christmas. For a child, the wait…the anticipation is something that seems to overwhelm and consume. Was I good enough? Will I get what I asked for? Will I get anything at all?
I remember when Derek was about that age and made himself sick with worry that he hadn’t been good enough for Santa Claus to come. It broke our hearts. It wasn’t something we told him. Maybe he picked it up at school or even through well meaning Christmas cartoons. But for whatever reason, Derek felt like he wasn’t enough.
So, we sat him down and explained the nature of Santa Claus. We told him how the Christ Child had come, not out of any act or deeds that we had accomplished, but because God loved us so much, He sent us the best He had. And all we had to do was accept that precious gift.
Advent is a season of waiting. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”. Someone or something is coming. We can’t rush it…we can’t make a wish and have it appear. We must wait.
I mention children and how hard it is for them to wait. But what about adults. Are we any more patient? In the age of “instant gratification”, the things we actually have to wait for are fewer and farther between.
This is especially true this time of year. We rush through Halloween, hurry through Thanksgiving dinner so that we can get to “Black Friday Shopping”, (which now begins weeks earlier) and decorating for Christmas, before the turkey is even cold. Why are we in such a hurry? What’s wrong with waiting?
Maybe…just maybe…the word “waiting” has taken on negative connotations. And, perhaps, it’s not the waiting that is the issue…it’s what we are doing while we are waiting.
In the book of Luke, Mary was waiting for Jesus to be born. A first-time mother…you can imagine her anticipation. Not just an ordinary birth…but the birth of our Lord. Ladies, can you imagine sitting around the house for nine months, thinking that thought?
But then a decree from Caesar Augustus took Mary and Joseph from their home in Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, to be registered. They were already on a journey…now, another journey was added to it. A ninety-mile trip.
Now, for most of us, ninety miles is no big deal. If you’re on the interstate, you can be there in an hour and a half, depending on how heavy your foot is. If you have to travel through small town, at slower speeds, two hours is closer to your time of travel.
No, ninety miles isn’t that big of a deal…unless the reason you are traveling it makes it so. What if you get a call that a loved one is injured or sick? What if a natural disaster hits and you are the one waiting on help from a nearby town, that now must battle the elements to reach you? The “what ifs” are endless…and anyway, you catch my drift. It’s all relative to the situation you are in.
Mary and Joseph’s journey took them out of their everyday routine, placed them in a strange environment and their progress was slow at best. There was no hurrying to register and hurrying home again.
We too are on a journey…a journey through this season of Advent. It’s not meant to be rushed or hurried through. It’s meant as a time of preparation…a time of great anticipation. And ironically, the one we are supposed to be hurrying towards, is here with us now.
Don’t be afraid to wait. In waiting, we learn to appreciate, to become aware of what is truly important and even learn something about ourselves and those around us. Don’t rush the journey…slow down and enjoy the scenery. Take a moment to ask God what He wants for you in that moment. Don’t miss the gifts along the way that He has to offer. And most of all…remember what it is we are waiting for. I guarantee…He’s worth the wait.
One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along, that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul. -Michelle Blake