Nov21TueNovember 21, 2017
Most weeks on my day off, I venture out to the grocery story with our twins. Since this has been a regular routine most of their life, they enjoy the journey up and down the aisles of cans, boxes and cartons. The joy for me is that I often run into people whom I know. I love striking up a conversation as we stand by the hundreds of soup options. However, it doesn’t take very long before our twins have had quite enough of standing still while ‘big people’ talk. Before long they begin to command that we keep moving. Yet oddly enough, when it comes to the check-out aisle, they are often very content to wait. They wait for our turn in line, wait as our items our scanned, wait as dad talks to another person and wait as the groceries are bagged up. I believe the difference in this aisle is that as they are waiting, there are items in their line of sight which help them focus and wait with patience. Fortunately, they still listen when I say, “Put the gum back, boys, because it’s time to go.”
Toddlers are not the only ones who have a difficult time waiting. Of course, we all have our own various struggles with patience and contentment while waiting for a coming event. That is what can make this holiday season stressful. We have to wait until school is out and the office closes. We have to wait for family to gather and open wrapped gifts. We have to wait for the turkey to finish roasting and wait for the dishes to be clean before digging into the pie. In fact, the coming advent season is all about waiting – waiting for the moment when we celebrate Jesus’ birth and waiting for the day when He’ll come again to judge the world and fulfill His eternal kingdom of peace.
The question that I’d like for us to consider is, “What should we do while we wait?”
For toddlers and adults, unfocused waiting only leads to restlessness and discontentment. We don’t need more of that. Neither can we make the turkey cook faster, or make Christmas day come any sooner. So what should we do while we wait? How can we focus our attention?
Isaiah 40, our coming Scripture text for Advent, was written to give God’s people something to focus on while they were waiting for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah. Throughout the text, Isaiah invited God’s people to look for signs of peace, look for obstacles being removed, look for evidence that God’s word endures, look for ways in which God cares for His people like a shepherd, look at nature in order to observe the incomparable greatness of our Creator and search out ways that He shows compassion for those who are weary. The prophet was giving them directions to wait patiently and yet wait expectantly because, “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…” (Isaiah 40:31).
During this season of waiting, let’s continue to direct our focus towards the Lord and evidence of His work. Not only can he keep our attention and teach us patience, but He’s really what we need anyway – more than turkey, football, and presents. And as we do, He is faithful to renew our strength. Only then, can we learn to wait well.