December 16, 2015

Waiting for Christmas

It's December, and we're waiting for Christmas.  The four weeks leading up to Christmas are called Advent, which is "a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus."  As we wait, we prepare: gifts, food, music, decorations, and our hearts.  I think of those who waited for the Messiah to come the first time.  Jesus' advent, or coming, was long-anticipated, but he didn't come as expected.  He didn't come as an earthly king, but rather a heavenly King, wrapped in the flesh of an infant...  He disappointed those who wanted their political problems solved.  But He satisfied the souls of those who longed for forgiveness and holiness... those who longed to know God.    

Charles Wesley wrote these words in the 18th century:  "Come, Thou long expected Jesus; born to set Thy people free.  From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee."  

I am waiting for Him to come into difficult situations and bring freedom and rest.  I am waiting for His Second Coming with as much longing as those who waited for His first advent.  I am waiting for Him to reveal Himself to family and friends who don't yet know Him... for a dear one to get the job he needs... for a preemie to grow big enough she can come home from the hospital... for a friend's marriage to be restored... and others to find their mates...  I'm waiting for friends to be relieved from lengthy sickness and pain... for a childless mother to be given children... and for grown children who are lost, to find their way.   

Waiting... that "not-quite-there-yet" season, seems to describe so much of life... we are all waiting for something or someone to come to us, to arrive.  There's a painful longing when our hope is deferred; waiting is just plain hard. But waiting on the Lord, well, that is good for the soul.  Waiting is referred to in the Bible over 100 times. Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations, chapter 3, "The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him."  Waiting and seeking help me prepare for the good He will give.   

Waiting reminds me it's not all about me: it's about a bigger picture of what God is doing.  I can wait well; I can wait poorly, or everything in between... but I will have to wait.  Waiting for Christmas reminds me to focus my expectation on the Lord and His purposes, which often look different from my own.  He will answer; He will provide; when the time is right.  Just as Jesus came in "the fullness of time,”  so He will come again and answer those long-prayed prayers for souls, jobs, healing, marriages and children.  

Waiting, expecting, preparing… and eventually, celebrating.