I’m not known for my patience, and sadly it seems this trait has been passed on to my daughter. But we wait differently. I wait for good things to happen, but don’t expect much. Phoenix waits for good things to happen with unfiltered excitement, joy, and expectation. She literally jumps up and down ecstatically. She is certain that good is coming her way.
My jaded cynicism casts a gloominess on my expectation. I hold back excitement to protect myself from disappointment. When something good does finally come along, I worry about when something bad is going to happen next. I’m not certain good is coming my way.
In the wake of childhood loss, abuse, and trauma, Christmas was a time of severe loneliness and sadness for me. I didn’t know how to find joy in the birth of Jesus.
The longer nights and darker days left me feeling bereft, slightly hopeless, and desperate for a new year to start. Since the Christmas wonder had not yet descended on me, I had to bring it down myself. What I needed was to prepare my heart for his coming. I had to choose joy.
We bought the advent wreath and the candles. We created our own Advent readings. I made myself be present to the possibility of hope. My heart grew brighter with each lighting of the candles. I witnessed the radiance magnified with each flame.
I begun to anticipate Jesus’ birth in a different way. As the flickering grew with each sulfur hiss, my heart grew quiet with hope, but with the hope was a homesickness. In the midst of all the busyness, conflict, events, responsibilities, connections, and blessings, was a longing for home, that place where I would find true rest and true restoration. I would meet the Person who had been preparing a place for me for so many years. I’m growing impatient with myself and this world.
The first Advent was recorded in the Book of Isaiah. This prophecy stated that the virgin would conceive and give birth to a son, and he would be named Immanuel. Between the time of Isaiah’s prophecy and the ministry of Jesus 680 years had passed. That was a long time waiting. The need for a savior hasn’t lessened with time. If anything, it’s grown more desperate. It was dark then and it’s dark now, some would even argue it’s darker, others would say there’s nothing new under the sun.
For all our enlightenment, scientific advancements, medical breakthroughs, economic progress, and improved quality of life, our lives and times are shadowy still. The horizon may be glowing a bit brighter than before, but we are still in the twilight of our waiting.
We still need a savior and our dark hearts still need saving. It’s still Advent. Even now, we are waiting, like the people and the prophets, for salvation, deliverance, rescue. He’s still coming. But we’re not waiting 25 days or 680 years. It’s been over 2,000 years and counting.
Our hearts are heavy with waiting. We are homesick with longing for a place we’ve never seen. For all my “savedness” at times my heart is still drawn to darkness, I grow weary waiting for my deliverance and I substitute what I need for what I want. I give in. I give up. I settle for less. The hope of the future means nothing to me in those moments.
I get hopeless. I get lost in the shadows. I need Jesus to be born again in my heart again and again when my hope is dwindling and my spirit is darkening. I need this Morning Star, this Light of the World because I am as dark as a Bethlehem night. This week of Advent we lit the candle for hope, while the light breaks through on the horizon. It’s dark and dim and dreary here, but the Light is coming. It feels like an eternity, but he promised he would return for us. So we wait, in expectation of the good, with childlike hearts and certain hope, for our homecoming. And hope does not disappoint.
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