You will often encounter the theme of waiting during Advent. There is a particular emphasis on the waiting for the coming of Jesus – both in the Christmas story as well as into our lives now. We ask: what are the things we are waiting on God for? That’s a good thing to consider. However, I feel like there is something we can easily miss in this seemingly helpful theme. What if we are waiting for the wrong thing?
Think about Jesus’ birth. This was an event that just about everyone missed at the time because they were waiting for something else! Admittedly, God was a little mysterious/ambiguous about the coming of the Messiah – something we forget after the fact because it all makes sense in light of history. But the people of Jesus’ day – they weren’t waiting for a baby to be born in a barn to save the nation. In other words, they were were waiting for the wrong thing. God had given promises and they lost track, confused, and ministerpreted them.
And us? What are you waiting for? What am I waiting for? What if we are waiting for the wrong things too? In a conversation with friends earlier this year, we discussed how often we are asking and expecting very specific things from God. We must ask ourselves often (or better yet, have others ask us) – is THAT what God promised? My experience is that over time we take what God has said, picture it a certain way, and then become fixated on our finite picture of what God has said. We wait for OUR best understanding of what God will do and we stop waiting for God.
Can we as fragile, control-seeking humans just wait on God for however God wants to come? Can we hold our hopes and expectations (prayer requests) loosely enough for God to come through the way He knows is best? And how do we not miss this in our waiting? God so often comes in unexpected ways doesn’t He? I suppose this is where it helps to have others watching with us, reminding us of God’s words so we don’t get too attached to our own interpretations – and being open to re-interpreting as needed.
Maybe we just need to keep bringing to God the places in life that we need Him. These we do know! Invite Jesus to come and then see what He does. In a sense, let go entirely of an outcome or destination we think God wants (or we want?), and let God instead work with us where we are and take us to the place He has in mind. Maybe this is the best way to not miss His coming? Maybe this is the ONLY way to make sure we are waiting for the right thing – for God.