Friday, December 2, 2011

Waiting on Jesus - My Take on Advent



This year, I received something I had been waiting on for more than ten years. Sorry – but I’m not gonna tell you what it is (even if you read all the way to the end of this blog). I’m just gonna share with you what I learned while I waited. I’ve been thinking a lot about waiting recently, because it’s Advent. And Advent is all about waiting. 

Generations of Israelites waited for a promised Savior. Many waited for what they would never see with their own eyes – but still they believed He was coming. They waited in captivity, through the wilderness, and in the Promised Land. They waited under the rule of good kings and evil kings. They waited in times of peace and in times of conflict. They waited in abject poverty and in indulgent prosperity. They waited in exile. They waited while God spoke and while he was silent. Then, finally, the people who walked in darkness, saw a great light. (Isaiah 9.2, Matthew 4.16, Luke 1.79, John 1.4)

Can you relate? Are you waiting on what you believe is coming? You believe it because God said it. You know it but you haven’t seen it yet. You know it because God has never NOT kept his promise. But you don’t know how long you’re going to have to wait. And it might be a long time. In the darkness, you wonder if you will ever see the light. For us, Advent celebrates the confidence we can have that Jesus will show up – at the right time, in the right place, in the perfect way.

But we don’t like to wait. I bet you’re even a little irritated that I have already used the word “wait” 16 times – let’s get to the point, right? Don’t rush me.

I was in college when I figured out that most of life is waiting. Many days pass between few big events – the first day of school, becoming a teenager, driving a car, your first date, choosing a university and a career, choosing a mate, having kids, getting rid of your kids, retiring and enjoying your kids’ kids, etc. So, God revealed to me that if I didn’t learn to wait well, I wouldn’t live well. It’s a lesson I’m continually learning. I hear these questions from God on a regular basis: “Will you still wait for me, Daphne? Will you trust my timing or will you push for yours? Will you be content or will you constantly complain? Will you be present in your present or will you be anxious for your future?”

Hard stuff. So how do we learn to wait well? There’s a long list of amazing people in the scriptures who had to learn to wait too. Maybe you can relate to some of them.

  • Job waited for answers. (Job 1-3, 38-42)
  • Noah waited for his assignment to make sense. (Genesis 6.11-8.19)
  • Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, the Shunamite woman, and Elizabeth waited for a baby to hold. (Genesis 17.15-21.7, 1 Samuel 1-2.11, 2 Kings 4.8-17, Luke 1.5-25)
  • Joseph waited to see his dreams come true. (Genesis 37-45)
  • Ruth waited for a good husband. (Ruth)
  • Joshua waited to enter the Promised Land. (Joshua 1-6)
  • David waited at the end of the line. (1 Samuel 16.1-13)
  • The widow of Zarephath waited for her next meal. (I Kings 17.8-16)
  • Esther waited for the right time to approach the king. (Esther 4-7)
  • Nehemiah waited to go back home. (Nehemiah 1-2.8)
  • The lame man at the Pool of Bethesda waited for his turn. (John 5.2-9)
  • The woman with the issue of blood waited for healing. (Luke 8.40-48)
  • The disciples waited out the storm. (Mark 4.35-41)
  • Peter waited for redemption. (John 18.15-27, 21.15-19)
  • A father waited for his son to come to his senses. (And He still does. Luke 15.11-32)
  • Paul waited for doors to open. (1 Cor 16.9, 2 Cor 1.12, Col 4.3)
And this just scratches the surface of God’s waiting room reading material. 

Honestly, I am beyond thankful that God finally answered my prayers - such sweet relief. But there is no question that my desperation during the waiting increased my intimacy with God more than anything else in my 39 years. This one continuous need showed me I could not do life pulling myself up by the bootstraps and trudging on. Sheer optimism and a can-do attitude won’t cut it over the long haul. I am not enough. I need to depend on Jesus – his presence, his power to change and his example. No one knows more about waiting well than Jesus. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12.2-3) While I waited, he showed up every day – when I obeyed and when I didn’t, when I trusted him and when I didn’t. He just kept showing up anyway, giving me hope. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful…” (2 Tim 2.13). And then the day came when everything finally changed. I don’t have a formula to share – I’m not sure why God chose this year to answer my prayer. And the purpose of this blog entry is not to offer a quick fix for the pain of waiting. There is none. But choosing to draw near to Jesus is the secret to waiting well. In His presence is comfort, strength, joy, wisdom and peace – enough for every hour of your wait. And there are some treasures hidden in the darkness of waiting that cannot be discovered in the light. So I just want to appeal to you to wait with HOPE. Let the message of this season give meaning to your waiting. While you count down the days until Christmas, remember there is a day marked on God’s calendar for your wait to be over. Take some time to quiet your heart and listen to the whisper of Advent:

“Don’t give up. He is coming for you.”

I would love to pray for you if you’re waiting right now. Just shoot me an email at daphnefine@gmail.com and I promise to pray. And, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to meditate on some of the stories in the list above. They encourage me over and over again. Picture yourself in their stories, ponder what God is saying, and pray – ask him to help you understand and to respond in obedience.

Merry Christmas!

No comments: