I experienced a true miracle just a few days ago. An online retailer I shop through released an app that allows you to receive your order in less than one hour of placing it. I purchased some items and within an hour, the delivery arrived. In the midst of my rejoicing at this leap forward in online shopping, I realized that I was saving around 20 or so hours from my previous method of ordering. That’s when I realized that I might have a problem with waiting.
This was not a new revelation to me. I’ve never been good at waiting, and truthfully I’m an impatient person. I’ve been this way since I was a child, and waiting is one of the hardest things for me. Now as a dad of three little ones with a fourth on the way, I can confidently tell you there are ample opportunities to work on this area of my character.
I think this is the case for most of us. Certainly, there are the few saints among us who have everlasting patience, but for many of us, our perfect world is one that gives us our needs and wants instantly. Drive-thrus, credit cards, and one-hour delivery all hold within them the promise of instant gratification. Sometimes I wonder if our “instant” society is shielding us from the reality that in our relationship with God, there will be seasons of waiting.
These seasons of waiting can be challenging, but what if I told you there is a season of the year that could be an intentional reminder that God will satisfy our longing and waiting? We’ve just entered into this season, which is known as Advent. You may have grown up celebrating Advent with your family, and this is especially true if you come from a tradition that observes the historical church calendar. Those of us raised in other church traditions may not have heard of Advent. No one is quite sure when the church began celebrating this season, but what is certain is that it was a fixture on the calendar from very early on in church history. I’ve found that participating in Advent is a life-giving spiritual discipline that connects me to God and His story of redemption through Christ—throughout history and in my own life.
Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “arrival.” It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and prepares our hearts and minds for Christmas. There are three main focuses during Advent. First, we contemplate the depth of longing that creation experienced as it waited for the Messiah to come. Next, it causes us to stand in awe at the reality of God taking on human flesh and dwelling among us. Lastly, it helps us cultivate the longing we have for His second coming when death will be swallowed up in victory and all of creation is renewed.
Advent is a time to slow down and wait. It is a time of preparation that reminds us of what we’re waiting for. Just as Israel’s wait for their Messiah ended over 2,000 years ago, our wait for the return of our glorious king will end as well.
So, how can we intentionally engage in Advent this year? The first thing is simple, but at the same time extremely difficult: Slow down! It’s ironic that the term “hustle and bustle” is often used to describe the pace of the Advent season. We miss an opportunity for spiritual growth when we can only devote one or two days to focusing on Advent’s significance—because of Christmas, Easter was possible.
The second way to observe Advent is to start a tradition of celebrating it with friends and family. Some people celebrate with an Advent wreath, calendar, or devotional, while others develop their own way of commemorating the season. The important thing is that you set aside those four weeks before Christmas to focus on the entrance of Christ into the world.
The celebration of Advent is a reminder that Jesus Christ—God in human flesh—entered into the world to reconcile the Creator with His creation. Invest some time over the next few weeks to connect deeply with the Lord and begin your own tradition of celebrating Advent. As you do, you’ll reconnect with the truth of knowing you’ve been given the greatest gift—the victorious Word made flesh for the redemption and renewal of all creation. You’ll experience the One who ultimately will end all of your waiting.
Join Gateway’s celebration of Advent by watching our nine-part Advent video devotional on myGateway from November 29–December 25. The myGateway App is available on Apple and Android devices.