I didn’t grow up in a liturgical church tradition and don’t remember our church making a huge deal out of Advent. I do remember lighting candles every week for the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and a short reading each week. It was more of an addition to what felt like an already full order of service than a focal point in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Because of that, I never really put a whole lot of thought into what Advent means and symbolizes… until this year. This year the Advent season of waiting and preparation, a side-note for so many years, has struck a chord with me.
That picture up there? It’s a picture of my daughter’s room. The dresser to the left of the bed is filled with some of my dolls from my growing up years that my sweet momma cleaned and dressed up for her. The bear on the bed is the one that my husband gave me when we were dating and about to spend a summer apart.
It won’t always be this clean, but it’s a warm room, a comfortable room, and a room filled with love and with hope. But there aren’t any clothes in her closet yet, there are no other toys in her dresser, and even just saying things like “my daughter’s room,” and seeing such girly stuff in our house feels a little foreign to me — because she’s not here yet. We’re hoping, and we’re praying, and we’re still waiting on our adoption.
There is something about waiting that nobody likes. It’s uncertain, it’s tenuous, and it takes control out of our hands. And that’s the worst part, isn’t it? Not being able to DO anything.
God promised a Saviour a few thousand years before he actually showed up. And there was nothing that anyone could do to speed things along. There were periods of silence, periods of God moving, and times where the people of Israel cried out to God because they were tired of waiting.
But here’s the kicker. Most of them didn’t realize it when God finally did send the Saviour. They had ideas and notions about what he would look like, where he might come from, what he might do, and how he might save them. Instead, he came as a vulnerable, helpless baby. When he grew into a man the salvation he offered didn’t look like what people were expecting. They expected freedom from human oppression, and he offered freedom from the oppression of sin and death. They were looking for one thing and God sent something else entirely.
God likes to work that way – to move in ways we don’t expect and to do things in ways we’re not looking for. We often miss it because we’re focused on the results, the answer to prayer, or the action that we’ve got set in our hearts or our minds. If there’s one thing that I’ve felt God whispering to me during this season of advent and waiting in my life, it’s to keep my heart open for the unexpected.
A few months ago God began working on our family’s hearts with regard to our adoption. Having two awesome but very BOY teenage boys, we’ve been travelling this road with the idea that a little girl is waiting for us at the end of our journey. We have an age in mind, her room is ready, our hearts are ready. A girl is what we had our eyes on.
If you would have asked me if I was interested in adding another teenage boy to the family, I probably would have good-naturedly punched you in the arm and said “Only if you promise to supply all the Febreeze!” Until God began to speak to us. We were looking for one thing but in the waiting God brought something altogether unexpected (and teenaged) along. He began to speak to us about a certain young man.
I don’t know yet where this will lead. I don’t know if at the end of the road there will be a little girl and another (TEENAGE!) boy, or just one or the other. But I know that God is faithful. I know he has a plan that is bigger and better than the one that I cobble together with my limited knowledge and short-sightedness.
And so we will wait. And in that waiting my heart is at peace.
“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:7