My daughter desperately wants an iPod but doesn’t have enough money to buy one. She’s been trying every angle with her parents and brothers to see if she can beg, borrow, or steal enough to purchase one. She’s offered to do house jobs for pay and she even divided the price of an iPod by four to show us what we could each contribute to make her purchase possible. So far she’s had no luck.
I was Christmas shopping in a local department store the other day. I found the item I needed right away, but the line at the checkout was really long.
My wife recently entered some songs she wrote in a songwriting contest.
After a year of contemplating it, a few months ago I applied to a seminary for entrance into one of their degree programs. It took a while before I heard back and when I did, they sent me a topic for an essay I was required to write and submit for their review as part of the application process.
I was waiting.
When my older sister arrived for our family Christmas get-together last year she had just been to the doctor to check out some “suspicious” spots and was scheduled for a follow-up appointment when she returned home.
She was waiting.
A few years ago I made a trip to Africa and found myself counting the days until I would be reunited with my family. On my flight home I was counting down the hours.
We were waiting.
I know parents who have a son off serving in Afghanistan and are praying for his safe return.
They are waiting.
I know a mom and dad who are praying for a prodigal child to come home.
A recent college graduate just applied and interviewed for his first position.
A young couple is engaged to be married.
A husband and wife have been in the application process most of this past year to adopt a child.
A child counts down the days until Christmas.
A family gets ready for relatives to arrive for a Christmas reunion.
They are waiting.
Life is waiting. I can either wait expectantly or impatiently, but I’m going to find myself waiting.
They stand shamefully clutching their fig-leaf coverings as God promises our first parents an Offspring who will rescue them from their fall.
The waiting begins.
Abraham hears God’s promise to him, telling him that he will be the father of nations and that through his Offspring all the world will be blessed, even though he is an old man and childless as God speaks to him.
The waiting builds.
The nation of Israel groans under the hardship of Egyptian bondage and cries out for rescue.
The waiting seems unbearable.
Isaiah says that a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son who will be the Prince of peace.
Micah says that this son, the Ruler for Israel, will come from Bethlehem.
The waiting continues.
The angel announces to the virgin Mary, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
The waiting is almost over.
The angels announce to the shepherds, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
The waiting is over. The Promise has arrived!
But what is Jesus saying now? “I am going to prepare a place for you, and I will come again and will take you to myself.”
The beaten, pierced, lifeless body of Jesus lies in a cold, dark tomb.
The angels tell the followers of the resurrected Jesus as He ascends into heaven that, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Yes, waiting again.
Advent, a season of waiting, begins today. It’s a time to remember anew the centuries of Israel’s waiting for the arrival of her Messiah. Simeon waited to see “the Consolation of Israel” whom he one day held in his arms. Anna devoted her life to fasting and prayer as she waited, and one day joyfully announced to others who had been waiting that the Redeemer of Israel was here. Neither of them wanted to miss what they had waited for their whole lives.
What’s sad is that when Jesus, the promised Consolation of Israel, arrived most of that generation missed Him. Some because they doubted and others because they got distracted and lost interest. There were some who grew discouraged by the waiting and quit, giving up hope. And then there were those whose expectations became so distorted that when their Messiah came they didn’t recognize Him. Waiting can do that sometimes.
Dietrich Bonhoffer said, “Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten.” In the busyness of shopping for the best deals, putting up Christmas decorations, baking traditional favorites, planning family gatherings, preparing for special programs, or coping with the fact that things won’t be the same this year, I don’t want to miss the call of the Advent season. In an impatient, got-to-have-it-now culture, I must make time to wait in silence before Him: to wonder, to fast, to repent, and to prepare, for only in such waiting will I enter more fully into the blessedness of His arrival. Again, Bonhoffer said, “Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting – that is, of hopefully doing without – will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.”
The waiting is not over yet.
Here is Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Peter’s closing words in his second letter. They call us to this current season of waiting. A second Advent is imminent.
With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.
But when the Day of God’s Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.
Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival.
So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace. Interpret our Master’s patient restraint for what it is: salvation.
We are waiting. Come, Lord Jesus!