“Not now maybe later.”
“You’ll understand when you’re older.”
“You just ate; you have to wait 30 minutes before you swim.”
It feels like growing up we are always waiting for something. Waiting can be horrible. Think about it, what’s the worst part of any doctor visit? The waiting room. And let’s not forget the smaller waiting room you have to wait in once you get out of the waiting room. We are always waiting, and you know what’s funny? Considering it’s something we have been doing our whole lives… we suck at it. I was making lunch today and the 2 minutes I was heating up food in the microwave felt like an eternity because I left my iphone at my desk. I don’t think I’m alone on this one.
Between our need for instant gratification and our need to be distracted and entertained, it’s no wonder waiting is so hard. This would be an easy time to blame technology, culture, TV, parents, or school for making a generation behave this way, but I don’t think it’s about them. This is on us. We choose not to wait. We choose to be distracted. I think it’s because through the little bit of waiting we have gone through we know that waiting is hard.
The church is in the season of Advent. Advent is all about waiting. It’s about anticipation and hope. It’s a reminder that something, someone is coming but isn’t here yet. It’s a callback to the Israelites who waited on God’s promises. They waited for God to fulfill the promise that he would bless them. They waited for the promise of land. They waited for the promise of a Messiah. They waited for hundreds of years. They even waited when God was silent, when he wasn’t reminding them of the promise. They actively waited. They prayed, and they yelled, and they cried out to God. They saw the world around them, they saw their need for him and they didn’t just binge watch Netflix, they engaged the culture, they engaged with each other, they engaged with God.
Now we wait. We cling to the same promises they did. That God would bless us. That God would bring peace to the land. That God would send someone to make things right. In the midst of the darkness and brokenness of this world we wait for God to show up… and it’s hard. It’s hard to keep having the faith and the hope that God will do what he has always done, keep his promises. Everything about this world tells us to stop waiting, stop caring, give up, go numb.
We allow ourselves to be engulfed by work and relationships and technology and appointments and responsibilities and commitments. I’m not blaming those things, those things are chosen by us as a way to run out the clock until our waiting is over. That’s what we want right? We want to just skip to the end when Jesus comes back and makes everything better. Let’s just get through this nonsense called life until the good stuff. If that were the point why would God have us live this life in the first place? There is more to it than that. There must be a different between waiting and waiting well. Living and living well.
We must learn to wait well. Anyone can wait. Anyone can distract themselves and become comatose to the world right up to the end. But what kind of life is that? How is that an existence? YOU WERE MEANT FOR MORE! There is value in embracing the refining fire of life. It can shape you it can build you into the person God envisioned you to be. Yup it’s hard work. Life is hard. And you know what, refining is not a one person job. The gold doesn’t just hop into the hot fire that it made all by itself. Waiting well means relying on others, on community. That’s why the church exists. To support, to encourage, to wait together.
We don’t have to do this life alone; we don’t have to go through the refining alone. It’s a group effort. Let people join in on your waiting. Join in with others and wait with them. Not in the passive sense of “I’ll pray for you,” but really actually pray for and with them. Check in on them. Allow others to check in on you. Chances are high that the real answer to “How are you doin? How was your week?” is not “Fine” or “Good” or even just “Busy.” That’s you trying to wait by yourself. Active waiting is a group activity.
The church has always been playing the waiting game. They waited for God to send them the One who would make things better. Now we wait on that same One to make things better. He has dealt with sin and its consequences, but when he comes back he will put things back to the way they were supposed to be. So we wait.
Advent is this great opportunity to stop avoiding life. Stop ignoring life. Stop trying to just “get through” life. Advent is a time to allow yourself to sit and be uncomfortable and listen to God and to actively wait. Actively dwell on the tension and the frustration that waiting produces and take that to God. Let Advent motivate you to not just dull out this world but to actively wait and pray and experience life.
This is the season that glorifies waiting. And the thing we are waiting for… will be worth the wait.
What does it look like for you to wait well? To actively wait? Share in the comments below. Like I said, Christianity is about community, let’s learn from each other.