When waiting feels intense and hard and scary, we have an opportunity to learn to wait in a new way.
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 ESV)
The calendar is turning to December, and Advent is here. I’d like to celebrate the season of waiting on the birth of Christ without dwelling on my own personal wait.
It feels cleaner that way (no mess of the inn for me): singing hymns I’ve sung for decades, imagining the end of Mary’s wait and the shepherd’s shock. The story remains a story that way. And sometimes stories feel safer than real life.
My Response to Waiting
You see, I’m waiting.
I’m waiting on a prayer I’ve prayed for nearly a decade and though that may sound poetic, waiting feels dreadful at times. Like a drizzle in the background of what would have been a glorious day, it can feel constant and overshadowing … this wait.
So, I find myself approaching it in two ways.
With force, albeit subtle – attempting to shift the circumstances, interceding for long stretches for it to change – desperately grasping for a way out of waiting.
Or I forget. I let it reside in the back of my mind. During Advent, I wrap gifts and read the story of the shepherds to our children, take luminary walks, and sing carols — anything to help me avoid the ache that comes when I face my wait and all the questions of God and my future.
What if we “waited” differently?
Advent means “He is coming,” and “He has come”. Both. Oh, the tension of anticipation and yet living in the not-yet. I prefer not to feel that tension – the pain that sits just below the surface when I remember that I am waiting, and I am praying for something for which I’ve seen no tangible movement. I prefer to either bury it deep or do something, anything, to make it shift.
And yet, when I sit in that awkward tension and admit to Him that I feel scared and unsure and even, at times, abandoned in this wait, God has something for me.
Yes, I feel exposed. It feels dangerously wrong: to feel afraid and alone within the head-knowledge of a God who comforts me and is near.
But these unsightly, frightful emotions I’ve worked so hard to cover are the very ones that make me finally (finally) want to collapse in His lap.
In my need, I find my way into the strong arms that steady me.
Because the advent story is mine, also.
Perhaps it’s your waiting story, too.
You see: there’s a slip of a girl with little notoriety who, when asked to carry the Savior of the world in her girlhood frame, immediately responded, “may everything you have said about me come true” (Luke 1:38 NLT).
Grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents passed to this girl-child a posture of waiting for the Messiah, such that when she heard the call out of waiting, the expectancy of God — the intimate knowledge of God’s ways with those who wait for Him — rushed through her guttural response.
When pressed one day…
I want to have her response … to know, so personally, what the lilt of His voice sounds like, the soft, distinctive way He comes to people like me and like you, who wait while being held by Him, to say with my life: “whatever you want of me, God.”
If you’ve been mumble-coaching yourself to just get out of this wait, already — to stop struggling, to get to the other side of this and soon – or if you’ve been trying desperately to task your way out of remembering the wait: perhaps there’s a third way.
I promise it’s longer.
It may not be well received.
At times it might be excruciating.
And it’s full of life and His safe hold.
In His Word
Lamentations 3:25, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (ESV)
In Your Life
Do you have something particular on which you are waiting? How do you notice yourself responding?
Pause and consider: might the way you’ve been responding to your wait be preventing you from experiencing the safe hold of God … His arms around you, as you wait?
Sara has a free Advent Adoration email series on talking to God through these in-between times, throughout advent. You can sign up to receive prompts and stories and videos from Sara, all throughout advent, as a way to invite God into your middle minutes.
And for anyone who wants to dive deeper into the tension of talking to God from the place of waiting, Sara’s book ADORE offers a simple, soul-nourishing practice for engaging with God in the middle minutes of your day.
For the Advent season, Church Source has offered 4 copies of ADORE for $35 + free shipping, should you want to grab a few friends to read along with you, or give it as a gift.