Last week my wife and I did something that was a first for us. We awoke at 6 a.m., headed out the door, and drove to a local home improvement store for Black Friday shopping. The number of shoppers at this store was overwhelming, and we were fortunate to find a parking space.  After spending time picking out gift items we got into one of the designated lines near the back of the store and waited as the line slowly moved toward the checkout counters in the front of the store.

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The next 50 minutes were an exercise in waiting as the line moved excruciatingly slow. We saw some people whose patience was nearly gone. We were among these people until we struck up a conversation with the woman ahead of us in line. The next half hour or so we learned about her family, work, scrap booking hobby and winter vacation plans. The time seemed to pass quickly, and soon we found ourselves through the checkout and on our way home.

This time of year Christians celebrate Advent. It is a time of expectant waiting as we remember the real meaning of Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ first coming as a Baby in Bethlehem. More importantly, Advent is also a time of expectantly looking ahead to Jesus’ second coming. The word Advent means ‘coming’, and Christ-followers expectantly look for the day when Jesus returns to inaugurate a new reality, free from sin, sickness, violence, goodbyes, and death.

We all go through times of waiting in our lives:

•    Waiting for the birth of a child

•    Waiting for results from a medical test

•    Waiting for the day when a son or daughter will return from serving overseas.

•    Waiting for news about a friend ensnared by an addiction

•    Waiting for reconciliation in a marriage

•    Waiting for a job opportunity or financial relief

•    Waiting for someone to share life together

•    Waiting for God’s answer to a long-prayed prayer

The waiting can sometimes feel excruciating and endless. I don’t claim to understand the reasons God allows times of waiting, except that He invites us to lean into Him and look forward to the day when He answers, and it all makes sense. God’s promise is that He will never leave us or forsake us, even in the times of anxious waiting. He will work all things together for our good if we entrust ourselves and our circumstances to Him. He is near, He is here, and He is coming soon to rescue all who turn to Him in faith.

The only question remaining is what to do during the waiting times.  Perhaps a good start would be to focus on God, His Strength, and His promises. Please reflect on these beautiful passages:

“Why do you complain, Jacob?

Why do you say, Israel,

“My way is hidden from the Lord;

my cause is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary

and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:31, NIV

“I waited and waited and waited for God.

At last he looked; finally he listened.

He lifted me out of the ditch,

pulled me from deep mud.

He stood me up on a solid rock

to make sure I wouldn’t slip.

He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,

a praise-song to our God.

More and more people are seeing this:

they enter the mystery,

abandoning themselves to God.”

Psalm 40:1-3, The Message Bible

When we look to God and lean into the power of His Spirit, times of waiting can also become times of worship.

God bless you.

Chris