Originally uploaded by M e l o d y
I have been reflecting on what Luci Shaw says, “anticipation lifts the heart.”
But if I am completely honest, I have found the waiting of this season to be excruciating. These weeks of in-between, of surrender, of emptying, of letting go and ultimately, the truth of knowing that what is coming, the Son of God coming as a Babe, it is so undeserved. This anticipation feels uncomfortable.
“Faith is giving permission” Richard John Neuhaus says. “The gift has already been given and forever is now for those who have given God permission to let life be a gift.”
Mary, the mother of Jesus, anticipated his birth like any mother would if she were hugely pregnant! And our waiting for the Babe is like being engulfed with pregnant expectation. The women reading, who have carried a child in their womb know this feeling. The weight changes you! (by which I do not mean ‘weight gain’ but rather the feeling of being weighed down by what is to come). Changes how you walk, how you sit, how you sleep (or don’t!) Day after day you wake, wondering if this is the day! You are full of anticipation that the babe might come today and you are rather helpless as to its timing.
Paul gives us a description of waiting in the New Testament book of Romans, as rendered by Eugene Peterson,
“Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”
I’m challenged to turn my impatience into a contentment I do not feel. I don’t want to rush. I don’t want to worry. Will this gift appeal or meet the expectation? Who will surely be disappointed? Who is longing for something else. That’s bogus! I hate it. I want to sit “enlarged” by the waiting for the Babe.
This year, I feel as if I am waiting for something more.
It has been a long time coming. I do not know what I am doing with myself, my future, my career, what I am learning, my searching and my growing, with finding my voice and finding myself. This has all been happening so slowly, for the most part. At times it comes in fits and bursts that have amazed me! But it has felt glacial in most other cases. It has been a decade of anticipation.
Some days this is distressing. And there are days when I completely lack any vision for my life – for its grander purpose. I scream at God, impatiently. If I had quote that sums it up now, it might be this:
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. ~ Albert Einstein
But as we question and wait, we must be clear about something else. The book of James incredibly says it: “Let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete.” Oh, how I long to be mature and complete. Less striving. More peaceful waiting.
And Shaw finally, “Pain, grief, consternation, even despair, need not diminish us. They can augment us by adding to the breadth and depth of our experience, by enriching our spectrum of light and darkness, by keeping us from impulsively jumping into action before the time is ripe, before ‘the fullness of time.’ I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”
It is his Son that I long for in this last week of Advent. Oh, there is more that I wonder about but I know ultimately that the Babe is all I need.
God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas.