As we approach Christmas and the Advent season is here, I wanted to reflect on the implication this time has for each of us.
According to the dictionary, Advent is the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays. It is “a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning ‘coming.’”1Wikipedia.
Since Advent refers to a coming, it is therefore obvious that there is a waiting implied, an expectancy, a longing for the arrival of something.
This is where I’d like to park for a bit with you.
Waiting is Difficult
It’s hard to wait. If I’m on hold waiting to talk to a “live person” I can get impatient. I’m not a fan of waiting in line; in traffic, at the bank, in the grocery store, or to order my favorite Caribou coffee. A line means waiting and waiting is hard. Whether it’s a wait for that much anticipated Christmas gift, the results of a medical test, or life to return to normal, waiting is not fun, can be annoying at best, and often is excruciating.
What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for your husband to act more loving to you? Maybe it’s a wait for your wife to finally respect you or for the first time to be the one to ask for forgiveness? Maybe it’s a wait for that medical school acceptance letter or a long-awaited promotion? Is your wait for an unfulfilled hope or dream that hasn’t happened—a pregnancy, an equally yoked relationship that honors the Lord or a marriage instead of singleness? Maybe you are waiting to finally have financial stability for once in your life, so you don’t have to worry about bills?
For the believer, waiting is not a random act of rotating planets, but a direct and intentional time set by a sovereign God. God works for those who wait for Him. Waiting is a vital virtue of the Christian life and if we are struggling in our wait, we need to find out what is happening in our heart. We can begin by asking, “What is most important to me?”
John Piper states it like this: “To wait! That means to pause and soberly consider our own inadequacy and the Lord’s all-sufficiency and to seek counsel and help from the Lord and to hope in him (Psalm 33:20-22; Isaiah 8:17). Israel is rebuked that they did not wait for his counsel (Psalm 106:13). Why? Because in not seeking and waiting for God’s help, they robbed God of an occasion to glorify himself.”2John Piper, Desiring God, 170.
Wait a minute! Did that sentence hit you like it did me? God tells me that when I do my best and work hard, leaving the results up to Him by not forcing things but being faithful as I let his timing unfold, God aims to exalt Himself in mercy. But, if I don’t seek Him and don’t wait for His help then I“rob God of an occasion to glorify himself.”
“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice.” Isaiah 30:18Fighting the ordained wait God has chosen for me means I have taken the reigns away from Him, set myself on the throne and placed my hope in myself, in a person, or in something other than the Lord and His timing. Click To Tweet
How many times have I tried to force God’s timing! How many times have I been the one to make things happen and not left the results up to God. Fighting the ordained wait God has chosen for me means I have taken the reigns away from Him, set myself on the throne and placed my hope in myself, in a person, or in something other than the Lord and His timing. In reality I’m saying, “God, I know better than you, let me take it from here.”
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14
What Does God Make Us Wait On?
What is the path Christ calls us to walk on? It is a path of waiting, trusting, and taking hold of His promises that are for us right now. But please don’t confuse waiting with passivity. The Bible gives us many examples of waiting and they are anything but passive.
- The days of the Judges were filled with waiting for deliverance from oppressors.
- Jacob worked and waited seven years (actually 14 total) for his beloved Rachel.
- Joseph waited in prison, wrongly accused, for nearly 12 years.
- For Hannah the wait for a son seemed agonizing and endless.
- For the Israelites they waited for generations for freedom from slavery, and then again for the long-awaited Messiah.
Our waiting is about our faith. We are to wait in faith knowing that everything is exactly the way He wants it to be. Waiting is about giving up our own agenda and surrendering our own desires, affections, and will as we step out in obedient faith. We are not in control of the universe. God is. God is in charge of His world and He has a purpose for each one of us in every situation.
“Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3).
How Do I Honor God in My Waiting?
It is important to understand that waiting is not just sitting idle and wasting time.
Waiting is active. It is:
- Looking ahead with hope and expectancy
- Not losing sight of God’s plan
- Daily (minute-by-minute) living submitted to the Spirit
- Seeing obstacles as opportunities
- Waking up without my own agenda
- Remembering I’m not wiser than Him
- Living His way and not my way
- Knowing my life belongs to Him
- Allowing Him to work in and through me
- Looking vertically for my meaning and purpose
- Following Him
- Trusting He has chosen for me to wait
- Finding security from Him when life is hard
- Placing my hope in the ruler over all things
- Accepting my weakness, knowing His grace is sufficient
- Getting my comfort from the One who loves me the most
- Responding to circumstances and relationships dependent on Him
“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” (Psalm 25:5)Just like the faithful Jewish remanant who waited for the Messiah, wait with reverence and joy, expectant and longing for God’s story to unfold. Click To Tweet
- I was created God-dependent.
- God is perfect.
- He bought me with the price of His Son.
- Daily I must choose to think rightly, reminding myself “His way is best.”
- I’m to pursue truth, growth and Christ-like change.
- I commit to follow and I’m willing to wait if God requires me to.
Remember that your wait, whatever it might be for, is under the sovereign hand of our Almighty God. Just like the faithful Jewish remanant who waited for the Messiah, wait with reverence and joy, expectant and longing for God’s story to unfold. Don’t grow weary in the wait. It may not seem like it, but He is working.
May this be a beautiful Christmas for you and your family as you celebrate the long-awaited birth of our Lord and Savior.
This blog was originally posted at First Evangelical Free Church of Maplewood, MN, view the original post here.