Waiting (Advent Thoughts)

Advent means ‘coming’. For ages I really didn’t understand Advent. Then a few years ago, a preacher explained that traditionally Advent preaching would focus not on the incarnation but on the return of Jesus; not on his first coming but his second coming. It was meant to be a penitential season, a time to pause and reflect.

 

I want to reflect that double perspective in these four Wednesdays before Christmas  – exploring themes in the Christmas story and applying them to us as we wait for Christ’s return. We’ll be simultaneously meditating on Christ’s first coming and second coming. Please do join me and link up your own Advent/Christmas posts below!

 

Clock

 

 

As soon as you enter a waiting room, you start to feel uncomfortable. There is something about the not-knowing how long you will be there for. And then there’s the uncertainty of what the doctor or whoever it is will say when you finally get in. You rehearse what you will say. You get fidgety and keep looking at your watch. The silence is an irritable one; the cloud of stress arising from a room full of people with loud sighs and annoying movements, and their own worries and preoccupations. You make a beeline for the nearest magazine and read with alacrity, wanting to distract yourself, redeem the time somehow. You hover between some banal gossip column and the ticking of the clock, feeling restless and in-between.

 

And then, when the call finally comes, you never feel prepared. It always feels like an unexpected and rude interruption, though it was what you were waiting for, all along.

 

*****
Pregnancy is a time of waiting.

 
The hard thing about those first few weeks of pregnancy is the not knowing – really, for sure. I wonder about Mary. Cycles can be irregular.  In the days before ultrasounds, it would probably have been almost four months before the bulge was prominent enough to be confident, before she felt that confirmative kick to know that it was a new life and not a tumour growing inside her, making her feel so ill.

 

What were her thoughts in that in-between time? The time of nurturing that secret? Did she hold on with certainty to the words the angel gave her, or were there moments of doubt, self-questioning?

 

Pregnancy is a decidedly passive way of growing a human. You can’t do anything, you can’t control it  or design it, just trust that it is happening. You can but wait, and leave it to nature and the goodness of God.
*******

 

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.” (James 5:7 NIV)

We are also called to be ones who wait.

 

For all the doing, the rushing of this life and our Christian endeavours, this is a very passive command. It calls us to trust in what we can’t see, recalling and leaning on God’s words as Mary did, choosing God’s promise over our self-doubt. We wait for Christ’s return, living in the in-between, without knowing when it will be.  To wait is to surrender our control. To wait is to trust in God.

 

When that Day comes, it will undoubtedly feel like an unexpected interruption, no matter how prepared we think we have been. There are too many magazines in this life for us to flip through, it is too difficult to wholly commit ourselves to live in a state of constant preparedness to really acknowledge that this day could be our last. We are so easily distracted.

 

*******

“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”(Romans 8:23-25 NIV)

I don’t want to wait for heaven with a sense of impatience and irritation at this world. I want to remember that Jesus is coming again, and that He will bring restoration in His timing.

 

I want to wait like Mary, in hope, trusting that God is at work in the silence and the dark places. I want to know that He who has promised is faithful, and He will do it.

 

I’m linking with Joy in this Journey, WIP Weds, Imperfect Prose. If you have written a post in the last week on Advent or Christmas, link up below by following these instructions:

1. Click on the ‘Add your link’ button and put in your details to link your post (only one post per week, per person please).
2. Put a link to my blog at the end of your post, so others can find the link-up too.
3. This is REALLY important (and kinda the point of the whole thing): visit the person who’s linked up before you and encourage them in the comments. You are also free to click on anyone else’s who might interest you!

 
Over to you:

  • How good are you at waiting? Do you see waiting as a spiritual discipline?

 

Liked this post? Do stay in touch – subscribe by email or like my Facebook page.



, , , , ,

34 Responses to Waiting (Advent Thoughts)

  1. Emma 1st December, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Tanya I came you your blog to read Shelly’s post & was so blessed to read yours. I have never thought of advent as waiting before, thank you for the change of perspective. I too want to learn to wait like Mary. This past year has all been about learning how to wait on God, taking my hands off & letting him do the work. It’s lovely to come towards the end of the year & view this season through new patient eyes. Such a blessing.

    • Tanya 3rd December, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      I’m so glad you found this! I am also in a mega season of waiting, and I have been really excited about this advent series for that reason – having a renewed perspective that God is in this. I’m so glad it connected with you too!

  2. Liz Eph 30th November, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    This is lovely. When we’re sick, especially a long time, sometimes it becomes hard to anticipate anything with pleasure. Festivals and festivities all need too much work. Fun is stimulating which again drains the little resources left for the day to day. The ‘having come’ of Jesus I can truly celebrate with joy, the ‘is here’ of Jesus has been my constant consolation, and the ‘will come’ is a hope , not just for my weary bones, but for my heart to meet up with in full the one who has truly stuck by me in all this.

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

      I LOVE this comment – the three tenses of Jesus coming. I couldn’t leave a comment on your blog because I don’t have the relevant log-ins, but I thought this made an excellent post, and was really glad you linked up. I hope you enjoyed reading the one before yours!

  3. suzannah | the smitten word 30th November, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    these advent themes are already cutting me to the core, and it’s not even yet begun! i read a meditation today on active waiting, anticipating with hope that the promises will be fulfilled, trusting that spring lies waiting beneath the frozen ground. waiting is never easy, but these liturgical rhythms are a great comfort. glad you’re delving into advent:)

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      Thank you, lovely Suzannah – I really appreciate it! These advent things are doing it for me as well at the moment – I’m excited about this season particularly this year. I like the idea of active waiting, the thought that we ar involved and submitting to it, not fighting it. This is always my challenge. Thank you.

  4. Susan 29th November, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Hi Tanya,
    So glad our bloggy paths crossed! Waiting – one reason I think it’s hard is because we’re always focused on the next thing. Always moving forward, never really content where we are. God is teaching me to Carpe Diem with HIM. Enjoy His presence in the little, seemingly insignificant things of the day. It’s amazing how He fills each moment that’s offered up to Him.
    Hugs from Va,
    Susan

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      I’m glad our paths crossed too! It’s great to hear how you are ‘practising the presence of Jesus’ in your life. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Christina 29th November, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I am terrible at waiting. So impatient and eager to move on. And I hate waiting at the doctors:) But this season gives me time to pause and consider what God is doing while I wait. Beautiful post!

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      Thanks, Christina!

  6. Charity Erickson 29th November, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    Oh, that feeling of not knowing…such a singular, strange feeling. You hit it right on the button. The Church needs more sermons that talk about what it feels like to be in that state of total preoccupation & uncertainty. It could bring so much to the pregnancy metaphors in Scripture!

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      Thank you so much for getting this :-) It is interesting that we don’t talk much about this in church (at least, in our tribe…) This has got me pondering.

  7. Kati Woronka 28th November, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    You know, as I read this, I thought about how it is that each year we reserve a month to thinking about the story of Jesus’ birth, and I think it’s details like what you described here about Mary that do it – it’s so powerful, with such rich imagery. I’d never thought of Mary this way before, and now I have a whole new thing to meditate on – thanks :)

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

      Thank you, lovely Kati! This is the first time I think I though of Mary in that way as well- sometimes when we enter into the story in a new way it all comes alive again.

  8. Kath 28th November, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    Yes, to wait with thankful expectation and hope, like Mary. That would be good.
    Advent has a sense of anticipation doesn’t it?

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

      Yes – the anticipation of advent – yes. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Janice 28th November, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Oh wow, I love this post and the link up idea. Now I need to find time to write….

    (I did get your email and am working on a reply! Thanks!)

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

      Yay and double yay! :-)

  10. Old Ollie 28th November, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Excellent reminder – it is good to get up to speed, appreciate advent, and not get swept up in the marketing of this celebration.

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      Thanks, Ollie.

  11. Mark Allman 28th November, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Tanya,
    I am not good at waiting. I do believe it is acted out faith to wait. It can be difficult and painful waiting in the dark. I think we tend to think we are doing nothing when we wait but I think it takes a great deal of effort to wait with faith; to wait without going off the deep end because we see no return for our waiting; to wait in the face of seemingly little evidence that the waiting will bear fruit; to wait without trying to make something happen on your own; and to wait with the confidence that God will make it all worthwhile.

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      Wow – yes – me too. “it is acted out faith to wait” – yes. This.

      Thank you.

  12. Beth 28th November, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    I think that you and I were on the same wavelength in some way, my friend. My post is about waiting on God and used the pregnancy metaphor as well! Isn’t it funny how God’s Spirit moves and inspires. I’m waiting with you, my friend. Thanks for this encouraging post!

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

      We totally were on the same wavelength! Love your take on it too. :-)

  13. Joy Lenton 28th November, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Thank you for this lovely reflection, Tanya. My own journey of faith has, and does, involve much waiting on God. I am slowly learning the lesson (with benefit of hindsight) that God inhabits and is “at work in the silence and the dark places”. Like Mary did, I have to choose to ponder these mysteries in my heart and surrender my ‘not knowing’ to His ‘all-knowing’ plans and purposes. I sympathise with Christy above as I often hear a ‘word’ from the Lord and fail to see it come to fruition in the timing I yearn for and expect. Our trust in His greater good and the lessons we learn in the dark night of the soul experiences especially, help us to be ready for the manifestation of the promise.
    PS: Am I the only one who thought Advent was focussed on the Incarnation? I’m pleased to stand corrected anyway! :)

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      I always love your insight, Joy – I think it comes from that deep place of patience in suffering, the costliness of lessons learned. I love your wisdom and gentleness in all your comments.

      And you are not the only one who thought that Advent was all about the incarnation – it took me over 25 years in an anglican church before I twigged!!

  14. Christy - Love is a Verb 28th November, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    That IS the forever lesson The Lord has been teaching me. He shows me some direction, then I wait….over and over. I was chuckling at your examples because they were all ME. The anticipation, then not ready. Yes, I’m always working on my “patiently waiting”. My husband always tells me, “You hear a word from the Lord, but get your timing wrong.” True – and timing really is important.

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      Timing can be really frustrating, can’t it?!

      I’m really glad that you connected with it – nice to know I’m not the only impatient one! :-)

  15. Jillie 28th November, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Hi Tanya…Yes, I think ‘waiting’ becomes a spiritual discipline. When we are first ‘saved’, it seems God is eager to answer our prayers. I think He does this in order to encourage us in our new walk with Him, and to confirm that He does indeed hear us. And we know His love for us. But the longer we walk with Him…well, it’s like He says, “Now you must grow up. You cannot have everything you want right when you want it. You must learn patience, forbearance. You must learn trust.” Hence, the waiting room.
    I’m not a great ‘wait-er’ by the way. When something takes years and years to happen, I have times when I just want to give up praying about it. It’s been a hard lesson for me to ‘take MY hands off of a situation’ and let GOD do what He does best.

    • Tanya 30th November, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      This is a really interesting perspective – I think lots of people can relate to that experience of God answering lots of prayers when you are a new Christian, but then more frequent silences as you mature. I love that you are hanging in, persevering in prayer – that inspires me to pray and not give up.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Arrival (Advent Thoughts) | Thorns and Gold - 19th December, 2012

    [...] We’ve considered the parallels between Christ’s first coming and His second coming: the waiting, the homelessness, the groaning. But it has all been building up to this: the arrival. [...]

  2. Christmas is about…Waiting? « Redefining Female - 4th December, 2012

    [...] post is Linked up with Tanya Marlow’s Advent Series. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  3. Nearly 25 days till Christmas! « Sunshine Lenses - 30th November, 2012

    [...] Tanya Marlow [...]

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge