My family has been in a season of expectation and waiting. But the beautiful side effect has been fully embracing Advent for the first time.
All we’re waiting for is to be able to move into our new home. We’ve been saying any day now for a month, and we’ve discovered we’re not good at waiting.
There are no signs of Christmas at our house but the wreath, candles and a lovely table cloth my sister just gave me. We haven’t even bought gifts.
But night after night we light a candle, we read and we pray, preparing our hearts for Christmas. It’s so freeing, we may have to do it again.
I am mesmerized by Advent. By the poetic blend of prophecy and symbolism. By the way Revelation echoes Isaiah. By the waiting.
So I took a picture. And I wrote a poem. (Free verse, of course.)
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Do you feel the waiting?
The knowing it will be, in time . . .
Something significant, life-changing is certain to happen, but the precisely when is elusive . . .
Days and weeks pass. Months and years, and the thing you held onto as imminent has not yet happened, and while you watch and you pray, you wonder, you doubt, you fret and still . . . nothing.
You are not the first to question. How long is long expected?
Death, injustice, grief weave a tragic plot . . .
You are not the first to wonder if the deus ex machina will miss his entrance.
And you are not the first to hope it’s soon because this world is a knotted mess and the harder you pull the tighter the knot gets and you know it will take a God to sort it all out. Until he does you cut the tangled strings and keep cutting until there’s nothing left to cut.
Silence as you tread water in the tears of the world that overflowed their bottles long ago. Deep calls to deep but the waterfall is white noise and it drowns the longing, numbs the wait.
The way once seemed right to you, but now it feels as though you’ve been walking a very long time and you wonder if maybe, just maybe, you missed the turn somewhere. A little light and you could be certain. Sight of something with your own eyes would recharge your waning hope.
You’ve been holding your breath through the drama, through the silence, through the darkness. Holding it til you are weak and helpless. And the exhale of four and two thousand years of waiting passes through your lungs as you gasp for air:
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Spark ignites bent wick and flickers.
We cannot see beyond ourselves, gathered together. Shadow looms beyond table, beyond reach of flame. But we are comforted; we do not wait alone.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
Generations, generations wait in breathless expectation of the God who heals! the God who restores! the God who brings justice!
He will reign on David’s throne, and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding
it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
He will destroy the oppressor, gather the scattered, He will be the King, reign forever and ever . . .
He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord . . . and they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.
I wonder . . .
How do we, who wait so expectantly, miss the signs?
We look for salvation in flourish, in victory, in power, in brilliance and in blazing sunshine.
But He is found, so unexpected, so humble, so poor, so small beneath the light of a single star. He comes to us, not in a box, but as a gift. But thou, Bethlehem.
He is there. In the mess. In the silence. In the darkness.
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The hero enters. Riding on a donkey. Greeted by children. Followed by no one special. Beaten. Crucified.
. . . we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel.
All the years of waiting, only to wait again?
The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:5
healing of the nations
no more death
no more sorrow
no more night
They will not need the light of the lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.
Amen, come Lord Jesus.
* * * * *
Tongues of fire.
And we are comforted.
We do not wait alone.
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We are waiting for so many things, aren’t we? For healing. For joy. For peace. For heaven. Whether it’s right on the surface or deep in our souls, we feel the longing for all to be really, truly well.
We fight to see beyond the circle of the candle light. We beg to know ahead. Of all things, we cannot bear the silence of God.
There is no short cut through waiting.