Here’s my contribution to our church’s annual Advent devotional (this year available in blog form). The theme for the first week of Advent is “Hope for Those Who Wait.”
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
Heading into Advent in 2011, I was sixteen or seventeen weeks pregnant, and the decision on everyone’s mind, it seemed, was whether or not we would decide to find out if our firstborn was to be a boy or a girl. Jonathan wouldn’t weigh in on the decision at all, so it was up to me. Did I want to know, or didn’t I? Were there good reasons to wait, or was the ability to plan and manage and organize for a few months before the birth necessary for my sanity? And perhaps most importantly, did I like yellows and greens better than pinks and blues? These were the questions on my scatterbrained mind.
Then came the ultrasound appointment during the third week of Advent, and call me crazy, but I woke up that morning with a revelation: pregnancy is Advent.
Both are seasons of preparation and expectation and waiting.
As we wait in both, we think we know of the joys to come—new life, sweet baby gurgles, heart-soaring happiness…the birth of Christ. And we think we know of the pains to come—labor and delivery, lack of sleep, emotional chaos…the crucifixion.
But for a few weeks, be it four or forty neverending long ones, we wait and we hope, and we wait and we prepare, and we wait and we wait and we wait.
Because we want to do so.
Because we are called to do so.
And, of course, because we are forced to do so.
It didn’t feel right to “find out” that Wednesday morning in the middle of the third week of Advent, halfway through our waiting for the coming of our Lord, so we didn’t. It felt like we would be rushing things, trying to do things our own way instead of the church’s way, to take control rather than offer up control.
I’m in a different place this Advent, but the message I needed to hear back then, and maybe the message you need to hear right now is this one:
We are changed in some mysterious way when we wait, when we don’t rush it.
And that can be enough to keep us keeping on.
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait.