advent: hearts filled by waiting

By December 1, 2014article, Christmas, hope, Joy

Last Saturday, seven happy and slightly sleep-deprived children woke up at the crack o’ dawn ready to go outside to jump, shout, and generally whoop it up on the a trampoline in the backyard.

Four weary parents shook their heads and delayed the fun until a later hour.

“The neighbors are all still sleeping. You guys can go out in two hours,” we said. {Because, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS, just shush for a minute, darlings.}

This wasn’t popular news.

We were required to deliver this news 273 more times than we wanted to, because hope (and complaining) springs eternal in the hearts of children.

“Is it time yet?”

“Can we go out NOW?”

“Have we waited long enough?”

“Ugh! How much longer???”

“Why can’t we go out yet?????”

At long last, I looked the kids in the eyes and said this:

“You don’t get to choose IF you wait. You only get to choose HOW you wait.”

And, oh my goodness, if that isn’t exactly what my own heart needed to hear.

After all, today marks the beginning of Advent, and therefore the beginning of the time God’s children wade deeper into what it means to wait for God to come into the world.

He came once, many Christmas mornings ago, and our hearts can scarcely hold their great need for His return.

We are those who long for Him, aren’t we? And it is a fearful thing to wonder when He will come at last for the final rescue of our souls.

We are shepherds on a hill, cowering in the light of heavenly glory. We are a small, powerless girl with a womb growing wide with God’s plans, yearning for the moment of delivery. We are the prophets dwelling in the temple, looking at baby after baby, seeking the One that will take away our sin.

There once was a baby who was delivered for our deliverance, and the depth of that can take years to fully sink in.

And so here we are again, celebrating Advent, longing for the God who has promised to dwell with us, but who we can’t see with our eyes.

We don’t get to choose IF we wait, but we do get to choose HOW we wait.

The angels give us hope, though, don’t they? This is what they told the shepherds, the words I put above our fireplace to chase away the fear that there may not be not enough joy this Christmas:

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”

There is good news for those who wait: The advent of joy will chase the fear away.

And, oh, how our longing deepens our belonging.

Advent is when we remember how far we were from God the Father before He sent His Son to save us. It is when we fill our hearts with the marvelous way He loves us. Advent reminds us to wait patiently for the appearance of the God to whom we belong.

Our family will be reading Ann Voskamp’s advent devotional this year to set out hearts above Christmas lists onto the one who has listed our names in the Book of Life.

We will pop open the windows of a Trader Joe’s advent calendar every day, then enjoy the sweetness of a tiny chocolate in the midst of the waiting for Christmas morning. We will cherish the knowledge that our God is the One who comes.

On Saturday, the passing of two hours took much longer than seven children wanted it to take. When the time came, seven rowdy kids ran out the back door, and we all exhaled with relief. At last, the waiting was over.

I don’t know if the jumping was more fun because they had waited for it. I can’t guarantee they learned to wait patiently that day. But when a fight broke out over who should get to jump first, some of them were astonished to find they had to wait… again.

This morning I sit with my advent devotional before me, a cup of coffee in my hand, and a stillness in my soul. After all these years, here I am waiting… again.

I am one who longs and waits for His advent all the days of my life. In desperate times, in dark seasons, in happy days of joy, and in days of peace: I want Him most of all. This will be the way my life will go for many, many more years.

Because I belong to the God who comes, what I want most every day is to be with Him, and in the end the fight will be won by a God who was born as a baby and raised to show me the way home.

I hope you find your heart full of waiting this Advent season, and that when Christmas morning dawns, you fins He has come for you all over again.