According to the church calendar this is the season of Advent. It is not Christmas yet. It very well maybe true what the song says, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go." But it is not Christmas yet. It is Advent.
Advent reminds us of the time when those who trusted in the Lord waited, waited in anticipation of his coming. Advent doesn't just hold a memory of a time when those who love God waited for the incarnation of God the Son, but it serves also as a reminder that we are waiting now for the second coming of our Lord.
We are called to wait, called to be still, called to trust, called to have faith.
Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart Psalm 27:14
all the days of my appointed time will I wait, for my renewal to come. Job 14:14
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. Psalm 13:5
Sometimes it is good to have a physical tangible experience to show us how good or poorly we are at less tangible spiritual things. Are we really good at waiting and being still, trusting, or are we just good at putting things out of our minds and not thinking about them?
Look to the gift of the season of Advent, the time that precedes Christmas, a time of preparation to be sure, preparation of our hearths and our hearts, as a time of testing our waiting. A time that helps us to understand ourselves, a time to see what it is in ourselves that we ought to be attending to. This time of waiting that can show us if we are diligently waiting or impatient, bored, disillusioned, doubtful.
Even though we know in our heads that each day is the same, that our Lord is in everyday, not just available to us in the feast days, we look forward to the celebration, the reenactment of his very incarnation, not unlike the remembrance of His sacrifice for us through the celebration of the Lord's Supper.
We put a great deal of enthusiasm toward the feast of Christmas and I do not think it inappropriate to do so. We who hold this coming season in an appropriate manner see many potentialities in the celebrating of His birth, His coming into this world for our sakes, on a particular day, while not forsaking all the other times of the year as being His, for His glory.
The potentialities are many, most very obvious, how well do we wait for the fruition of those potentialities? If we have a hard time waiting for these things we see and know each year, how are we at waiting on the Lord? Whether it be His second coming or just the evidence of an abundant joy-filled life and the daily promises that are ours, are we doing well trusting Him? Is our time of waiting filled with appropriate anticipation or is it filled with anxieties, disappointments, demands, criticisms, pessimisms, grudges against others, against God?
Or do we rush it all, wanting the season to be here. Do we indulge in what should wait? How many Christmas cookies have we devoured already? The fudge, all saved and packed away or was there a few more missing than for taste testing? Parties and gifts, how many have we already been to and opened before even second Sunday of Advent?
While I have been writing these dogs have been at my feet, waiting for the next installment of their treat for being good and staying on their rug. They know the treats are in my pocket, they have already had a little and know that there is more where that came from. They all wait so differently. Janie, the one staring at me, is older and knows that the treats will come, it is funny that she is the one watching and waiting. But she is definitely waiting.
When I moved their rug and slipped out to do laundry, I made sure that I told them to stay. Janie sat and wiggled. But Martin left the rug (I caught him as I looked back through the window he was given a second command and did well the second time). When I arrived back to the house there they all were on their rug waiting, but as soon as the door opened they dashed for me. It was fun to see their enthusiasm for my return to the house but it was nice to know that they had waited.
How well do I wait on the Lord?
By no means do I think that we should adhere strictly to an Advent rule. Most that is good in spiritual disciplines is lost when we begin attaching rules to them or because the practice has enriched our walk we demand them for others.
I bring this up not to see if my friends are spiritual enough for an observance of Advent but because I want to share with you, dear reader, the riches that the Lord has put into my life. I wish to share with you, dear friend, the understandings that have come from things others have practiced and I have practiced off and on since childhood. I wish to share the anticipation that this season this year has much to offer me as I find that I need to be more wait-ful, more trustful, more faithful, more still and quiet in my enthusiasm and joy-filled anticipation of what lies ahead with the LORD.