Ah yes, Advent—the time of the year you get 25 days to eat tiny chocolates out of a cardboard calendar.
And/or, if you attend church then the time of year that your church begins lighting candles the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.
Both the chocolate calendars and the lighting of the candles are heavily associated with the season leading up to Christmas, which we call Advent.
Until this year I kind of just accepted that Advent only served as a form of count-down for Christmas, not really much more.
However, this year my heart was telling me it needed more out of Advent. It yearned for something deeper; I just couldn’t tell what. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always pumped when I get to eat a piece of chocolate everyday for a month straight, I love the lighting of the candles, and I love the countdown to Christmas; but I knew there must be more.
Have you ever felt that way? Just knowing there is more to the story than what you are seeing? Because I am learning that when I feel this way I need to pay attention to that feeling.
I was needing a deeper understanding of the actual reason for Advent. I’m not going to lie, I must have somehow zoned out of that part of church for the past 20-something-years (my bad).
Whatever the reason was I just had never paid much attention to the Advent season.
Last week someone said they loved Advent and everything that it meant. They continued to say how important Advent is to prepare our hearts for Christmas and the promise that it holds, and it also reminds us not get caught up in the consumeristic aspect of the season.
I bopped my head up and down cluelessly (probably zoning out again) while internally rationalizing the chocolate filled Advent calendar I had sitting at home. I mean it was only like 2 dollars in the discount bin and so really it wasn’t that consumeristic…I could have bought the 12 dollarKinder Bueno one…who am I kidding the Kinder Bueno one would have been worth it…blah blah blah.
When I finally got home later that day I realized that I really needed to do more research on the whole purpose of the Advent season.
As I do in times of questioning I turned to my good friend for help: google.
You guys, don’t worry that was not my only source; I also listened to a bunch of podcasts and downloaded some devotionals about Advent to try get a good base of knowledge.
I quickly realized that Advent isn’t just a countdown till Christmas. Advent symbolizes a season of waiting—more specifically waiting for Jesus’s arrival.
The Israelites waited and waited for the Messiah for a long time, and eventually he came and was born in a manger—hence Christmas.
And now we wait for Him again.
We wait for His return.
We wait for the fulfillment of His promises to us.
We wait for an answer to our prayers.
We wait to see what His plan is for our lives.
We wait for God to come meet us where we are at.
Not only do we wait, but we wait expectantly and filled with hope. We are not waiting in vain and we are not waiting idly. We strive forward joyfully and triumphantly for we know God will come meet us where we are.
This new (to me) concept of advent was the comfort I needed as my life is (for real) filled to the brim with unanswered questions. My life is one HUGE ol’ question mark filled with uncertainty and often worry. The message of advent reminded me that I must let go and wait, because I KNOW that God will come meet me in his perfect timing.
I am in a season of waiting right now and I have absolutely NO clue when my waiting will be over. I also have no clue as to what awaits me on the other side of this season of waiting.
What I do know is that God will meet me where I am and that this season of waiting will one day end. There is nothing that I have to worry about because God is working towards fulfilling everything he has in store for my life, all I have to do is wait. And, wow, WHAT a relief that is.
Let me just repeat that in case you zoned out (like I did for so many years): God will meet you in his perfect timing. Stop stressing about it.
All that we are called to do is wait EXPECTANTLY for his perfect* timing. Expectantly meaning with anticipation, preparation, excitement, and most importantly hope.
God may not meet you how or when you expect. I mean, seriously, I am pretty confident when I say that not many people expected Jesus to arrive in an old stinky barn. God often works in ways we do not understand and do not expect.
And you know what? I think that’s pretty cool, because honestly we often don’t dream or anticipate for things nearly as wondrously nor creatively as we should. We also often would like to skip past the difficult and unconventional stages of our lives that must occur to bring plans to fulfillment. But we need the difficult and unconventional stages to build us to be stronger and force us to develop and grow in so many aspects of our lives.
So, if you are feeling stressed waiting for something to happen, let me assure you that 1) there is nothing you can do to force things into happening faster so stop stressing; 2) you can rest in the promise that Jesus is working for you and not against you, and everything will happen in His perfect timing. As Romans 8:31 reminds us,
“ If God is for us, who can ever be against us.”
As you go through this season of advent/waiting remember everything that God has promised you and wait expectantly with joy and hope.
Jesus promised to give us the gift of peace of mind and heart, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27. Be comforted by that.
Jesus is coming to meet you as you wait.
For now, go eat and enjoy your chocolate advent calendars (because they are delicious and fun), but let’s also remember that there is more to this season of advent. This is a season of hope.
* “ But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.” Galatians 4:4-5