Arrival (Advent Thoughts)

What will it be like when Jesus returns?
I’ve really enjoyed this Advent series following Mary’s journey. 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.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to think much about Jesus’ coming again. Sometimes if I’m feeling morose I will consider my own death and meeting him in that way, but I don’t tend to think about Jesus’ return. Perhaps it’s because after 2000 years, we’ve grown complacent.

“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40)

Jesus told his followers to be ready for his return. But it’s difficult to exist in a state of continual expectation. We tend to think of waiting in expectation for Christ’s arrival as though we were waiting at an airport lounge, bored, watching the lights flicker on the arrivals board, hoping for some indication that He will come.

But it’s not like this. It’s more like the waiting of being pregnant. Mary would have gone normally about her life, with the occasional reminder of Jesus’ coming from the kicks in her womb. Then as she progressed into the third trimester, the extra weight and pain she was carrying would have been more of a constant, background reminder in the midst of her busyness.
Waiting for Jesus is something we do as we go about our daily lives. It is not an airport lounge. It’s a very long third trimester.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

When I was in the pushing stage of labour, I was so exhausted and out of it that if you had asked me, I would not have known what on earth I was doing. I had forgotten there was a baby involved. I was just thinking about how to draw the next breath, and that was taking all my energy.

Sometimes life is like that. There’s just no energy for anything other than surviving, and you forget what it’s all supposed to be about. You forget that Jesus is coming again.

But then he arrived, my boy, and they brought him to me. I hadn’t met him before. And yet I knew him. His face was at the same time new and familiar.

I have a confession:  I’m not one of those people who thinks all babies are beautiful. I think most are plain ugly, if I’m totally honest, and I find myself wincing at the red and wrinkly newborns, inventing suitable compliments for the sake of the parents. And while Jon and I are alright-looking, let’s just say I was more convinced of our progeny’s genetic tendency towards brains rather than beauty. In short, I was fully preparing myself to give birth to an ugly baby.

But then they handed him to me, and I was overwhelmed by how perfect, how gorgeous he looked.   I was genuinely surprised. My first words to him were, “But he’s so beautiful!” And at that moment of seeing how beautiful he was, despite the pain and exhaustion, I felt a deep contentment, as though I knew that everything would be alright.

I reckon that’s how it will be. He will come again, and we will see that face for the first time and it will be strangely familiar. And we will say, ‘But he’s so beautiful’ and we will know that now, at last, everything really will be alright.

Over to you:

  • What helps you look forward to Jesus’ return?

I will be taking a blogging holiday over Christmas – back on Jan 8th with a God and Suffering story by Preston Yancey. Have a Joyful Christmas and a Peaceful New Year!

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11 Responses to Arrival (Advent Thoughts)

  1. Janice 21st December, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    Tanya, it’s taken me 2 days to find the time to comment on this post and I wish I’d gotten to tell you sooner that I LOVE it. I am the exact same way with babies. In fact I never really thought I was particularly motherly. When my oldest was born I was terrified that I wouldn’t like him at all. But that moment I saw him he really was so beautiful. I remember I kept saying it because I kept thinking no one was understanding my surprise. You’re right, it was that strange sense of familiarity.

    And I love this parallel to Christ coming. Will you lose all respect for me as a Christian if I confess that I have always felt I should be more excited about Christ’s return? I mean I REALLY want the redemption of everything, but I guess I have a hard time really imagining it and that makes it hard for me to grasp. But ideas like this I love. As an adult I think I’m slowly replacing the childish, boring, sterile ideas that I managed to construct for myself about heaven and God and they’re being replaced with things of such beauty and power.

    And this post helped all that along a little bit more. So thank you.

    (I really wanted to get a post written this week to link up, but somehow I doubt it’s happening. Oh well!)

  2. Cat 21st December, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    I love this line:

    “He will come again, and we will see that face for the first time and it will be strangely familiar. And we will say, ‘But he’s so beautiful’ and we will know that now, at last, everything really will be alright.”

    Its going to be an amazing day!!! 🙂

  3. Abby Norman 21st December, 2012 at 4:12 am #

    Sorry for the double link, I could not decide but at least this way with them back to back I am not asking a bajillion people for feed back! This link up has THE BEST advent thoughts! Thank you!

  4. Jillie 21st December, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    Hi Tanya
    When I am missing a loved one, like my Gramma Jessie whose been gone to glory for many years now, or my Mom who passed on 33 years ago…these times make me long for Jesus’ return. So that I can go and see them again.

    And when I see evil in this world like that of Newtown, CT, I long for His return. For the time when evil will be punished and peace on earth restored. When He will rule and reign.

    Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

  5. kelli 19th December, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    A beautiful parallel in your words here, Tanya.
    Perhaps the longing is less ugly than discontentment and bears more resemblance to an undying hope. The expectation of a sweet promise.
    To seeing the familiar. (Loved that part!)

    oh, and i hope you don’t mind, i linked up the same post again today, not realizing when i did it yesterday that the list would be closing so soon. thanks! and merry christmas!

  6. Mark Allman 19th December, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    I feel exactly the same as you about babies and their looks. 🙂 I am sure as well that when we see our own baby or when we see Jesus we see not with our eyes but with our hearts. Our hearts are filled with that feeling on a longing fulfilled. I know we talk of seeing Jesus face to face but I think it will be more heart to heart. We will know him as he really is and we will know ourselves as we really are and we will marvel at how blessed we are to be his and he ours.

  7. Joy Lenton 19th December, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    This is beautiful, Tanya. Our hearts and minds may not feel prepared in any way for Jesus’ return, although there are small indications along the way that birth pangs have definitely begun and the meeting is imminent. Caught up as we are with our world and all its’s busyness, between the ‘Now’ and the ‘Not yet’; I feel sure we will heed a Holy Spirit signal whispering gently “Be ready. The Bridegroom is coming!”
    Even to be thinking and speaking about End Times and Jesus’ Second Coming does something to prepare us to receive Him. And we will know Him in all His warm familiarity and unfamiliar glorious splendour as He bids us “Come”. Some days I long for that coming. Then I remember how God desires all to know Him, how many of my family and friends still don’t, and I think “A little more time, please, Father”.
    May you and your family be blessed, my friend, and rejoice in what you do know of Him now at this Christmas time. 🙂

  8. Mia 19th December, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Dear Tanya
    I want to share something that is NOT theology. I know Jesus is coming back, and I think soon, yet, everyday when I get distracted from Him for whatever reason, He lovingly draws me back and then I experience many little returns or coming backs which is my life and joy!! Well, flare-ups make me long for His speedy final return!
    Bless you, dear friend, and I wish you a God- filled Christmas.

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