Advent: The Power of Waiting

Busy, busy, busy… Christmas is only three weeks away! We can’t wait for the day to get here, yet there is too much to do. Busyness and impatience rule so many of us this time of year. ANM’s Victor Morris has written The Journey to Christmas, a devotional book for Advent, the season before Christmas, and we invite you to join us for a day. Here is Victor’s devotion for December 3, slightly adapted:

The Power of Waiting

There are impatient people all over the world—of this I am sure. Yet we Americans have a special talent for it. We do impatience extremely well. In fact, we have made it a cultural trait. We do not want to wait for anything. We want what we want WHEN we want it, and that means NOW! Don’t ask me to wait—that’s uncalled for.

But in this microwavable, instant pudding, powdered milk, pop-up, just-add-water and poof-you-are-there society we have done ourselves great harm both psychologically and spiritually by not practicing the virtue of patience, longsuffering, endurance, perseverance, and just plain ol’ waiting.

We see a wonderful illustration of the importance of waiting in Luke 2:25–40. Here we see two elderly saints of God who teach us the virtue of patience. First there is Simeon, a man who lived with a promise. He had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes. Now, in the twilight of his life, I am sure that there were some days when he wondered if this promise was going to be fulfilled. Think about it. Waiting year after year, decade after decade—knowing that God had spoken, yet never seeing it come true.

Then one day, one wonderfully blessed day, he sees a couple enter the Temple precincts carrying a baby. The child is being brought for His dedication to the Lord. Simeon’s heart leaps within him. The Spirit of God in his heart cries out: “This is the One I told you about!” Immediately he recognizes that this is God’s chosen One. With joyous sighs of relief, he utters words that have touched hearts through the centuries: “Now, Lord, you can let your servant depart in peace…for my eyes have seen your salvation…” Simeon experienced his own personal epiphany (literally) because he had waited and trusted that God would do what He said He would do.

The second illustration follow immediately. There was a woman of the tribe of Asher named Anna. She had experienced the joys of married life for only seven years before being widowed. After that tragic event, she spent the rest of her life as a prophetess in the Lord’s house.

For many, many decades she had served God with fasting and prayer. Now she comes upon the scene of Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and the infant Jesus. Immediately the Spirit of God inspires her and she confirms the redemptive plan of God that would be accomplished through this divine child. She also enters the Gospel account and becomes part of the Father’s plan for His Son, because she had learned how to wait. What power there is in waiting!

Waiting is a virtue we need to rediscover in our hurried, busy, and impatient modern world. I know—waiting is no fun. None of us likes it. To be able to endure it is a discipline that must be nurtured and developed in our lives. Yet it is the way of God. Indeed there are so many things in God’s kingdom that only come through waiting.

One final thought: Consider perhaps the most famous verse dealing with waiting: Isaiah 40:31. The word for “wait” in this verse literally means to twist or braid, like twisting strands of fiber together to make a rope. The image is fascinating. Waiting on God is not meant to be just a passive, dull, irritating experience. Rather it is supposed to be a time when our lives, our hopes, our prayers, our longings are all entwined with the Lord Himself and His purposes for our lives. Waiting is an opportunity to join ourselves more closely, more intimately, with the Lord. What a shame we so often waste this wonderful opportunity by impatient and bad-tempered griping and grumbling, when we could be growing ever more interwoven into the Spirit.

This is what Advent is all about. This is what this season reminds us of. Waiting.

Lord, teach me to wait.

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12/3/14

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