A Time to Wait: An Advent Reflection
December 2021 | Written by Ellie McGinty
Growing up, I was always told that “The anticipation is the worst part,” whenever I had a doctor’s appointment or a big test coming up. I’ve learned that for these things yes, anticipation is usually the worst part. But what about anticipation for other things, like getting married, starting your dream job, or even just hugging your best friend after not seeing them for a while?
We know, as followers of Jesus, that there is a holy anticipation, and we experience it every Advent and Easter. But holy anticipation does not just apply to these two marvelous events. It applies to everyday things as well. Holy anticipation means submitting to the will and design of God, remembering that His thoughts and deeds are a mystery. We like to live as though we have reached the limit of all understanding, when actually, we have simply reached the limit of our own. To wait on the Lord, to wait for Him to act, to wait for His blessing, His peace, is the humble posture we are meant to have always, but especially during Advent. However, waiting does not mean apathy or passivity. Waiting is still active; we are faithful with little that we may be given the opportunity to be faithful with much. Making dinner each night, folding laundry, putting up the Christmas tree – all of these are faithful and holy ways of waiting because they are acts that say, “I don’t believe that chaos and disorder and darkness are all that there is. I believe that the curse of sin and the pain of this world will someday be at an end. I believe in a God of design and order that created me to imitate Him by creating structure in the small things of my life.” We wait with hope and anticipation by preparing for Jesus’ coming. We decorate our houses to celebrate the beauty of His creation. We light the candles during our church services as a reminder that God is pushing back the darkness, and the battle has already been won against those forces that seek to steal our joy. We give gifts to recognize the image of God in each other, giving to delight and help and serve those that God has so lovingly made.
Anticipation is not the worst part. Anticipation is holy and set apart, a gift and a mercy from God to us during this season where He allows us to enter into the pure, unadulterated joy of His coming, even if it’s not the coming we pictured. The Israelites expected a warrior, a king who would break every chain, spread justice far and wide, and destroy any trace of darkness. But the God who came came as a baby. An infant that depended upon His mother’s body to sustain Him and bear Him. God wanted us to see how our anticipation and our waiting can be answered through His marvelous designs. It doesn’t have to be answered outside of His design because it is breathtaking enough.
As many of you know, Lake and I got married a little over a month ago. Waiting to marry him was kind of the worst at times. During the nine months between when we talked about getting married until we actually got married, I used to think that Jesus couldn’t possibly understand what it felt like to wait for something as beautiful and sweet as marriage. But as Lake and I prepared to become one, we talked often about the wonder of marriage being the closest picture we have on earth to Christ’s love for and relationship to us, His church. And He began to show me that He was waiting too. Waiting in Heaven to come back and be reunited with us, an event that will far surpass any we have ever experienced in joy, ecstasy, and delight. We are waiting for His coming, preparing with mundane acts of faithfulness, anticipating a joyous reunion. And He is eagerly waiting too.