If you have a child or grandchild, you’re watching them count the days until Christmas with great excitement and anticipation. If you’re tired or lonely you may also be counting the days – but for a very different reason. Far beyond waiting for Christmas, waiting is part of our experience as followers of Jesus. And it’s not easy.
Throughout much of history waiting was the norm. In today’s instant culture we don’t have to wait much. Microwave dinners, Amazon Prime, same-day doctor’s appointment, and entertainment on demand are now a way of life. (Many people try for “instant relationships” as well – with very sad results. But that’s a topic for another day.)
As Christians we can come to expect instant results in our relationship with God also. We get upset when God doesn’t quickly bring the hoped-for answer to our prayer, or when the sinner’s prayer doesn’t immediately result in a mature Christian character for ourselves or others. And we wonder what’s wrong when life isn’t bringing everything we believe God promised.
Already. And Not Yet.
Theologians talk about “the already and the not-yet.” When Jesus entered our world on the first Christmas the kingdom of God was here in reality. Our lives are truly different because He came.
But if this life, even with Jesus, is all there is, we are, as Paul said, “of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) This world, as good as it may get, as many blessings as God may bring, as meaningful as our lives can become, will never be enough.
It will never be enough because we were not created for this. God created you and me for eternity! And until we experience eternity everything will in some measure disappoint.
- Material blessings will ultimately become hollow.
- Physical health will be temporary and eventually decline.
- Emotional wellbeing will always need to be fought for.
- Relational intimacy will never fill the deepest holes in our souls, married or single.
- God’s presence, while real, will be “slippery” and partial.
Advent season is about waiting for what was promised. Waiting while looking forward with eager anticipation and absolutely rock-solid hope. Hope not in the sense of imagining something that would be nice, but with a guarantee of God’s good eternity more sure than that the sun will come up tomorrow.
We as Christians can look silly and superficial to others when we focus solely on the here-and-now. We work tirelessly to make the present order of things better, but it can never be good enough, even with all of God’s blessings.
There are things we do while we wait for eternity. We practice living as we will live then – caring for the bodies and minds God has given us, serving others with generosity, growing to become ever more like Jesus. Waiting is not sitting back idly; it’s diligently investing all we have and are because we know what is to come. The investments we make have a guaranteed return.
And we keep waiting.
The only way Jesus could make it was by keeping His eyes on His future. Jesus “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Hebrews 12:2)
If Jesus had to look to His future in order to make it, what makes any of us think we can make it without holding on to the future God has promised us?
May this Advent season – waiting for Christmas – remind you that we are still waiting for eternity. Waiting with the absolute guarantee that this is not as good as it gets. God will not stop until everything is made right.
He is here already. And at Christmas we celebrate that reality.
And at the same time, the future eternity that is not yet will be far beyond even our best expectations.
Your Turn: Where are you disappointed now? Can you look at that same disappointment as waiting – for eternity? Leave a comment below.
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- Waiting for Christmas is the season of Advent. And it reminds us that we are not only waiting for Christmas, but waiting for eternity. This is not yet as good as it gets. God’s future for us is guaranteed! Tweet that.
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