An Advent Reflection By Bishop David C. Bryan. The Right Rev’d David C. Bryan serves as Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of the Carolinas and Assisting Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the South and the Gulf Atlantic Diocese.
Part of being married is learning how to live happily with differences. One of these “differences” in my very blessed marriage is the issue of arriving on time. We see things quite differently (understatement). I prefer a bit of a ‘time buffer’ to account for the unexpected, potential delays; Nancy likes to play it close. So often, when we are leaving the house, I’m ready to go and she still has a few things to do. She pleas with me, “please hold on.” I’ve learned how to wait… usually in the driveway with the car running!
Face it, we hate to wait. We don’t like lines, waiting rooms, or delays in our ‘instant’ society. There is an inherent impatience in the way our culture has shaped us in the western world.
Which is why Advent’s biblical emphasis on waiting is important for us to hear. We live in between the advents of Christ into our world. We are encouraged to allow our time waiting to do its sanctifying work in us. It has been wisely said that next to suffering, waiting may be the greatest teacher and trainer in godliness, maturity, and genuine spirituality.
Advent reminds us of the centuries God’s people waited for the fulfillment of his promise to send a Savior. He came! Jesus, speaking of his return, said, “stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men waiting for their master to come home…” (Luke 12:35-36). Waiting, whether we like it or not, is an integral part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
But there is good news for those who embrace this call to wait as a matter of trust in God’s promise to us. Psalm 33:20-21 bears witness to this: “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.” We wait because we trust that God, in his time, will fulfill his promise to us in his Son. We believe, with Isaiah, that those “who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
We fail in our waiting when we take things into our own hands…. when we decide to operate out of our own agenda and not God’s. We fail when we give up hope and cease to trust in God’s Word to us.
When we pray for a family member or friend to be touched by God’s grace and we don’t see results, we are tempted to give up. When we pray for a job or opportunity to open up and we don’t see it come to fruition, we are tempted to give up. Advent reminds us to press in, to actively wait for God to move, to break into our story, often in unexpected ways. He has proven in the incarnation of Jesus Christ that he is trustworthy.
I’m not sure what you are waiting for right now, but when, in your circumstances, you hear “please hold on,” hear it as an invitation to hold on… to the promises of God!