I’ve never been good at waiting. In my college psychology class we learned about an experiment dealing with children and delayed gratification. Children were given a marshmallow and told that they could eat it right away or if they waited 15 minutes they could have 3 marshmallows. Let me tell you, I would’ve eaten my marshmallow before they finished giving the instructions. Then I would have eaten everyone else’s marshmallows too. Yeah, no good at waiting.
Yesterday marked the first Sunday of Advent. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically the first season of the Christian liturgical calendar. It’s a time of waiting. We observe the time as we await Christmas, which as you probably know, is a celebration of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.
This season we look forward not only to his birth (the past) but to the event of his coming again (the future). We are between advents. The first season of advent ended when a baby boy was born in a stable over 2,000 years ago. The Jewish people had been waiting for his coming since Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden in Genesis. The whole Old Testament portion of our Bible was written looking forward to a savior who would put an end to the reign of evil in our hearts that overtook humanity so long ago.
And, when it seemed as if things could not get worse, a baby came. A savior. God in the flesh. The wait was over! He came! So this season, we focus on that. On the fact that our God came to be with us as a man in order to bring peace to our hearts. So beautiful. So unexpected.
The second advent is the one we’re in now. When Jesus left this earth he promised to come back. And so we wait. And when he comes back he promises to make all things new. No more suffering. No more pain.
And that’s the basics of our Christian faith, isn’t it? The fact that our savior came and made a way for us to be at peace with God through his death. He didn’t stay dead, but became alive again and has promised to come back. That’s it. I believe that. It’s so simple and yet so profound.
And so we wait.
When I was 9 months pregnant with Little Guy I watched as my due date came and went. I was roughly the size of a whale and had been having contractions for 2 weeks. 2 weeks of contractions. The thing about waiting on a baby to come is that you really can’t do anything but wait. No matter how much I pleaded with the life inside my stretched-out belly, he was going to come on his time, not mine. But even though I could barely walk/sit/eat/breathe, I still wasn’t wondering, “if he was coming…”, but rather “when he was coming…” I knew that there was an end. I knew that eventually I would be holding my boy and I would forget the suffering it took to get there.
And so we wait.
But we wait with hope, like the hope of waiting for a baby. I know that my Redeemer lives and will come back. I wait expectantly, knowing that in the end the suffering and pain of this life will be worth it.
How do you celebrate the waiting?