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Advent. A season of expectant waiting.
What do you do when you’re tired of waiting? What do you do when it feels like all of life is Advent?
This year I focused on what it means to embrace life in all it’s wild and wonderful unexpectedness. I kept asking myself the same question, “What does it mean to live from the middle?”
Life doesn’t afford us hindsight until life is really in hindsight. We only get the up close blur of life in the present and our questions can obscure the view. Mary had nine months to prepare and I wonder in my heart if she felt like it was enough time. Enough time to really grasp the weight of God come down and growing in her? Do we ever really grasp the weight of our now?
I came home expecting and expectant from West Africa three years ago. We welcomed our daughter and we’ve moved four times since, waiting, wondering, wanting roots. It’s been a lesson in crazy hope clinging, but I feel like I’m still right in the middle of the questions.
Expectant waiting. Waiting with the weight of hope in our hearts, hope that God will show up to answer the questions, to make a way. I’ve stopped expecting and I wonder if the heart of Israel was reflected by an innkeeper who turned a very pregnant Mary away telling her his too full life couldn’t accommodate? Isaiah prophesies and then 400 years of deafening silence. Four hundred years go by without a peep from God about the Messiah, the King coming to save.
Did the people stop expecting? Did they assume abandon?
If I’m honest I’ve had my moments. Moments when I’ve wrapped myself in cynicism and decided God didn’t want me to have good things in life. All of life is good when we have the right perspective on the Giver.
One childhood December I flew from my bed to the living room with an expectant heart thinking each morning was Christmas Day. I was anxious to see presents piled high, but each day I was met with an empty room. Then the big day arrived and wide-eyed I swung the door open on more than I dreamed.
The waiting is always the hardest part. Waiting fills us with doubt.
With every year I find myself embracing Advent, the expectant waiting, a bit more. No longer do I rush to the finish line of the holidays. I’m more content to contemplate, to taste, to dwell with the story of love come down. The certainty of Christ’s coming has placed in my heart a hope that all of life should be lived in expectant hope of His presence with us.
But the other days of the year? The days that tick by slow with spilled sippy cups and dirty toilets and our growing pile of answer hungry questions? Those are the days when the waiting wears thin. I admit that I doubt His goodness, presence and provision.
I’m un-awed by grace and forget the crossed wood of a manger reflect the cross ties of a rugged Cross. They are the pointing ahead to the moment of clarity, the very unmerited Redemption of our souls. The split second that split the veil and unveiled the Hope of Glory. The moment when we look at our litany of demands life be easy and fair and we fall face first into Grace undeserved.
A few days ago I cried ugly all the worries and fears about this in-between I am living. I wept big tears about the questions looming and I wondered if God could hear. I wondered if God had heard a single prayer I’ve lisped over the last few years.
When I am tempted to reject the messy middle of my life I have to remember that Jesus came down to the messiness of my life.
It is Christ whose whole life was a waiting. It was awaiting the cup that would be swallowed and the blood that would be spilled and He is the suffering Savior. He is the Savior who waits on us hand and foot, body and soul, and I know I can wait on Him because He is always waiting on me.
He waits for us to come. He wants for us to come to the fount that flows abundant and free straight through the carved canyon of our doubt and to the parched soil of our hearts. What we think we need and what He has given are often two different things, but His gift of grace is always what is needed.
I continue on in the waiting and it aches at times with all the not knowing and longing for the answers. Then I remember the words of sweet Ann who reminds, “The answer to deep anxiety is deep adoration of God.”
There it is. The Hope. The pulling of my heart on past the wondering to the wonder of it all.
Do we worry needlessly because we are less in wonder of God come down to us than we need to be?
He beckons us to lift our eyes up to the hills and He promises our strength will rise and it does when we remember the baby Jesus was raised to live, die and be raised for us. Our momentary waiting is for the eternal weight of glory and life undeserved.
A star filled the sky full when Christ was born and if only our eyes could be filled with the brightness of His Hope maybe our earthly worries would fade a bit? Slow and wonder. When you’re tempted to rush ahead of your waiting let the weight of glory enfold your impatient heart.
Remember the words of the old Christmas hymn, “O come let us adore Him…” and sing it all year long. Sing it from the middle of the waiting and as your song rises so will your eyes, away from your mud covered earth problems to the high hills of His Hope. The truth is that we don’t come all faithful. We come come faithless to wait on His forever faithfulness.
We never wait in vain.