By Rich Villodas (originally published on Missio Alliance)
There’s nothing that unites us in the experience of being human quite like waiting. No matter our age, our education, our accomplishments, or time spent following Jesus, we will have to wait.
This is why the Advent season is necessary for the shaping of our lives.
Each of the seasons of the Liturgical Calendar leads us in paying particular attention to Christian themes and practices. Lent reminds us, among many things, to place God’s way—and not our appetites—as the guiding principle for our lives. Eastertide calls us to live a spirituality of feasting and joy anchored in Christ’s resurrection. Pentecost gives us a vision of life filled with God’s power because the Spirit has been poured out on us.
The Advent season is one in which God trains us in waiting.
This training is oriented towards the formation of our lives because what God does in us as we wait is more important than what we are waiting for.
Many of the stories of scripture point to the excruciating pain and trouble experienced by the people of God because of their refusal to wait for God. This has been our story to this day.
For example, in Exodus 32 (the story of the golden calf), the Israelites, in a moment of anxiety, impulsively fashion an idol to provide security for themselves because Moses was nowhere to be found. This idol creation came days after God informed them that this kind of religious practice was off limits now that they were delivered from Pharaoh.
Anxiety will make us do irrational things.
Their waiting was difficult because they couldn’t see what God was up to.
It’s hard for us to wait—and not just because we are impatient.
It’s hard to wait because we often don’t believe God is at work in our lives.
But Advent reminds us that God has come, is coming, and will come again. It’s the annual reminder that God is for creation and moves towards us.
Even so, it’s hard to wait. One of the primary reasons it’s hard to wait is because our understanding of waiting has been incomplete.
As a pastor, I’m frequently asked to help people understand what it means to wait on the Lord. In the next post I will share four elements that I have learned along the way about WAITING.