Waiting Room (Advent 1)

(This is a reprise of my 2012 Advent series – enjoy!)
 

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.

 

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 Tuesdays 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.

 
Over to you:

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

 


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11 Responses to Waiting Room (Advent 1)

  1. Cara Strickland 8th December, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    “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.”

    I love this part because I feel that way, when something I’ve longed for and waited for and hoped for comes. I don’t always see it for what it is. It takes me a moment.
    Thank you for sharing these thoughts once again, still timely, dear one.
    Cara Strickland recently posted…Lingering Letters {advent: week one}My Profile

    • Tanya 11th December, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

      Thank you so much for sharing your heart with me. I always value your encouragement, Cara.

  2. Rebecka 4th December, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    A few years ago, God made me a promise. At times I have been annoyed with Him for doing so because I think it might have been easier for me to accept the current circumstances if I wasn’t always waiting for, and expecting, them to change. Waiting for something, I’m not quite sure what, to happen at some point, I have no idea when, is really, really difficult. But I think I’m getting better at it, I think I’m learning to trust more, to let go and rest in God. It’s not easy, it’s a very slow process and I need to be patient with my own lack of patience. If that makes sense. I also “want to wait like Mary, in hope, trusting that God is at work in the silence and the dark places.”

    • Tanya 11th December, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      Rebecka, you’re amazing. I totally get the ‘being patient with my own lack of patience’ thing. I think you are amazing for continuing to exist in that difficult limbo land of waiting expectantly. Praying for patience, and God’s timing, and gentleness, to be evident.

      • Rebecka 18th December, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

        Thank you Tanya, for your lovely words. they bought tears to my eyes. x

        • Tanya 23rd December, 2013 at 9:58 am #

          This makes me so, so glad. X

  3. Cathy 4th December, 2013 at 12:46 am #

    Tanya–
    This couldn’t be more timely for me; I am in a state of waiting–about one or two issues in particular. And 5 minutes before I read your post, I prayed that God would meet my need because I don’t really know what to ask for in these situations, other than that His will be done. I do know that trusting in Him in this period is definitely a spiritual discipline; I call it learning to use a new “muscle”. In my life, each time I have faced a new challenge such as these, I am usually acutely aware of it as an opportunity for spiritual growth. I can see that this period may take months (or perhaps years?) to shake out. And the growth is happening already…
    Thanks as always–
    Cathy

    • Tanya 11th December, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

      Cathy – this fills me with admiration and hope. I love the way you express it: learning to use a new muscle. It IS a discipline. Thinking of you. x

  4. Tricia 3rd December, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    Thanks for this Tanya.

    Wait was one of the words that God gave to me when I first started reading scripture, along with trust, rest and work.
    I see these words as a cycle. We have times when we have to trust – times when we really can’t figure out what is going on. That characterises much of my walk!
    Then when we think we know what God wants us to do, we may have to wait for His timing.
    Sometimes we need to just rest in His presence, waiting and trusting.
    But the time comes when we have to work – to do the task that He has planned for us. That’s when it gets exciting!

    • Tanya 11th December, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      I love this idea of a cycle. I think you’re so right. Sounds quite monastic, actually… Thanks, Tricia.

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