These prophetic words were written down 700-800 years before the Messiah would be born. The Israelites did not make a simple jump from Egypt to the Promised Land, but spent 40 years in the desert waiting, wandering, and learning some difficult lessons before crossing the Jordan. David did not waltz into the palace and sit on the throne when Samuel anointed him king. David spent a few years dodging spears being hurled by King Saul and hiding out in caves before he bacame King.
When the anticipation is great, waiting can be nerve-wracking, mind-numbing, and agonizingly frustrating. But we must remember that before good things happen, (it typically means) that preparations must be made. The time of Advent causes my anticipation to build, helping to prepare my heart for Christmas and the birth of the Jesus.
Despite continuing to spin on its axis at the same rate it has for millennia, we live in an increasingly face paced world. We get frustrated having to sit too long at a stop light. We can hardly bear the inconvenience of an Amazon package taking 3 days to be delivered when it was supposed to be 2. Our economy regarding time is to be efficient in trying to maximize every second of every day. If someone is wasting our time, we become indignant and irritable in a snap. We want results. We do not want to wait. We are more concerned with the product than we are with the process. But without a good solid process, it is likely the product will be neither sustainable nor optimal.
Please do not misunderstand me, efficiency is not a bad thing. While there is a certain measure of stewardship involved, I believe much of our impatience is due to our short-sighted, narrow and finite view of time. When we view the art of waiting rightly, it will help us have proper perspective. God puts various circumstances and situations in our lives that force us to navigate the uncertain waters of waiting. Certainly there are times when waiting helps prepare us for the future of this life. Waiting to finish our education prepares us for a career. Waiting for our wedding during a time of engagement helps our hearts to flourish in marriage. However, I know God often uses the process of waiting, longing, and anticipating to prepare us for the life to come as well.
When we do not get what we want when we want it, we have an opportunity to learn. We learn that we are not the center of the universe. We rarely get as upset with ourselves for inconveniencing another person and making them wait, but when we have to wait 20 minutes for our 15 minute oil change, we are on the verge of flipping out. There are a lot of people we pass each day that are hurting, broken or way off track. If we are impatiently pushing our way through life, will we have eyes to see and ears to hear when doors are open for us to minister Christ’s love to them? Empathy, compassion, and genuine love will not abound in our lives if we are the centers of our universes. The Spirit will not be able to bear the fruit of patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness if we are hustling and bustling our way through life with no regard for anyone’s productivity or passions but our own.
Christmas helps me to think differently about time.
Emmanuel. God with us.
When he was born, a few shepherds and wise men came to worship him, but this child who was truly God and truly man would suffer much in his life. He would be despised, betrayed and rejected. Very little in Jesus’ life would go according to what our plan might have been for him. I mean, if he only has 33 years here on earth, it seems almost silly to us that he would wait 30 years until he would even start his ministry. But the manner in which the Savior came and the way in which he apportioned his time reminds us that our definition of productivity is not the same as God’s. God’s plans are always better and more appropriate that our own because God is fitting us into His Story rather that us trying to carve out a place for Him in our own story.