In the Christmas season, we are reminded of how the angel of the Lord came to Mary to fulfill a promise that the people of God had been waiting on for generations. I can’t even imagine the kind of build up and expectation in Mary’s heart and in the hearts of the Jewish people as they awaited a Saviour. It’s like, FINALLY!!! God’s promises are fulfilled!
Waiting is something I’ve never done well. I think of my own four birth experiences and how a woman must wait nine months to meet that little bundle she has been carrying. I think of the season of waiting to become pregnant after we decided we were ready to plunge into making our family bigger. In fact, most of the seasons where I was forced to wait have not been full of grace or peace. Instead, I’ve just been looking for the fastest possible way out of waiting. I mostly just wanted the waiting to be over.
There was one season of waiting God gave me…I call it my “desert season.” At the start of one year, I remember God specifically telling me to wait on Him. Then I fell into radio silence from God for around 18 months. On this side of that season, I can see how God used it to strengthen my faith, and eventually lead me deeper in relationship with Him. During it, however, I thought I was lost. I thought I may never hear from God again. I wondered if I would wander in the desert forever.
Have you ever felt like that? Wandering, waiting, hoping, but unsure of how or when it will all end? It feels fitting that another season of waiting for Tim and I, has ended just in time for Christmas. We applied to be missionaries with the Church of God back in January of this year. Now, in December, we can finally say we have been accepted and are ready for the next step: fundraising. I wish I could say that the waiting was all easy, and we were filled with the hope of God’s promises for us at all times. We were hopeful for the most part, but I know for myself, there were still those moments of despair, when I wondered if we would ever move on from this waiting, waiting, waiting. Maybe this wasn’t God’s plan?! Had we misheard His leading and guidance?
If there’s one thing I have noticed about myself in this most recent waiting season, it was NOT that I had fewer moments of doubt, but rather how quickly I was able to run back to God in the midst of those moments. This time, it was easier to open the Scriptures or say a quick prayer or just get alone with Him and my own thoughts, and then declare my hope and trust in His ways and His timing. Jesus just seemed nearer in this season of waiting. Because of that, it was easier to lay down my own hopes and desires and trust that His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).
I hope in this final week of Advent you can find Jesus in your waiting. The whole of Christendom sits poised, waiting to welcome a coming Saviour this Christmas. Some expect Him to save them from their troubles, some expect Him to provide for their family, some expect Him to heal their bodies or their broken relationships. I hope that in your waiting, you can lay down your expectations of Him and instead be filled with the assurance that He has plans for you, exceedingly abundant plans, full of hope. First we must lay down our anxious desires and receive the person of Jesus. Then we will experience the gift of His presence in our lives.