joy in advent’s dependency

We cut down a Christmas tree and decorated it two weekends ago. I decked out our new mantle, as well, with red and black plaid ribbon woven into a cheap fake garland (ribbon added to hopefully make it look less scrawny). Christmas music is a background soundtrack each evening, and in that sense I feel “ready” for the holiday.

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In a deeper sense, though, I am ready for advent.

Advent feels sweeter to me this year, and I don’t know why, other than crediting the Lord for preparing my heart for this season. In the past, I have loved the idea of being intentional to celebrate Advent with devotionals and candles and liturgies. And yet I always look back on December wondering why it wasn’t as spiritually enlightening as I wanted it to be.

But this year, I find myself longing to move from idea to experience, to savor Christ in a season all about the longing and the wait.

The longing for what is coming but is not here yet.

As I dive into Scripture this month, I more clearly notice the yearning and the groaning of Israel for redemption, which has been promised throughout the Old Testament. A Redeemer to bring peace to a nation whose history has been riddled with conflict and exile and rebuilding and darkness. A Rescuer to provide salvation. A Righteous Ruler to restore what has been broken.

In Advent, we focus on the coming of Christ, waiting for the celebration of Christmas as the Israelites waited for Jesus’ birth, then as they (unknowingly) waited for Jesus’ death. We also find ourselves still waiting for Jesus’ return and the total fulfillment of this broken world being redeemed.

Advent has been fulfilled and yet – in another sense – has yet to be finished.

And as we wait for the redemption of this world, we experience hurt and sorrow and unmet desires. John Piper said, “God prepares a person to receive Christ by stirring up a longing for consolation and redemption that can come only from Christ.” It’s easy to look around at the world around us and recognize that things aren’t as they should be, and the hard yet beautiful thing about this is that it draws us to a deeper place of aching for Christ’s return and rescue.

Something I am appreciating about waiting is that it forces me into an awareness of my dependency and my lack of control.

In waiting, we declare a dependency on something or someone else.

Waiting takes place when we have a goal or destination but something is preventing us from getting there. Whether it is waiting in traffic on I-49 after work or waiting for a new job or waiting to get married or waiting for your marriage to get better, there is some factor outside of our influence that causes a delay.

{This is going to get personal.}

We are waiting to get pregnant. Have been “trying” for eight-ish months at this point. I quote-unquote due to the odd terminology of the verb “try” for the desire to start a family. From our experience, so far, I am realizing that it is less about trying and more about giving God an opportunity to work, because trying indicates a level of control I have realized we don’t actually have.

While I have hinted and briefly mentioned examples here previously, I haven’t wanted to incite sympathy for this current path we are walking. I have wanted to avoid people responding to my words with advice on what we should change to make conception easier, or in response have you experience a saddened emotion when you think about the Barneses. Because, as it is, I feel joyful when I think about what God is doing. And I love even getting to celebrate with friends who are getting pregnant.

Because, while it honestly is in the front of my mind a lot, our story is much bigger than that desire.

During Advent, as I have reflected on waiting and longing and the lack of control, I have experienced an incredible peace with our circumstances. Emmanuel, God with us, has felt so tangible to me. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t experienced sadness. In fact, for someone who is way more “thinking” than “feeling,” the sadness has been one of the hardest parts for me to manage. I have always thought that, if I trusted God, my emotions would agree, and I wouldn’t be sad.

But here I am, trusting God fully, yet more prone to weepiness than I ever have been. I normally have to understand something in my head before it reaches my heart, and this I don’t understand. Thankfully, I have enough “feeling” friends in my life who have helped me process through this and have validated me, relieving a fear I think I have unconsciously had in the past that feelings can’t be trusted.

In Advent, I am understanding the phrase used in Luke 2:25 where it says Simeon was waiting for “the consolation of Israel.” I am longing for the comfort, like John Piper said, that only Jesus can give. While I don’t expect God to always do what I want, I have experienced His consolation as He walks with me through every trial, every situation – including the unmet desires of my heart to start a family.

As we wait for our circumstances to change – and as we ultimately wait for Christ’s return – God walks with us through the wait. He reminds us that He is trustworthy and He is faithful to His character. It took several hundred years before the prophecy of Christ was fulfilled, so we know God has His own timetable, but we also know that He sustained the nation of Israel during that time. He will sustain you, too.

And while He may not answer your prayers in the way you want Him to, He will answer. He will show up. And He will use you in His grand story to make His name great.

So as you walk through this month of anticipation for Christmas and all that Christ’s coming means, think about what you are currently waiting for in your own life – then confess to God that you relinquish control to Him, because you ultimately can’t solve it anyway. Allow your wait to draw you into a sweeter dependency on Him, and expect Him to be present with you as you wait.


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