What Are You Waiting For?
Learning to How To Wait - Advent Pt. 1
Waiting is so hard.
Why? Waiting is difficult when you’re wanting to get to a different place than the painful, desolate, maybe even boring place you feel you’re in presently. When you’re pining to get through an illness. When you’re feeling trapped in a relationship. When your heart is longing to have children. When the job seems to take way more from you than you ever get in return. It might feel like the dark clouds never dissipate.
It’s even difficult to wait when you’re counting the days to get through before your upcoming vacation. Or waiting to experience the thrill of opening Christmas presents you see gloriously stacked under the tree.
Many of us live all our days simply waiting.
That’s definitely been my story: waiting to be loved, waiting to be successful, waiting to be happier. Long story short—I was waiting for things I already had, but I was blinded to the beauty of them because of expectations of how I thought they should look.
The Christian faith is also a strange mixture of waiting to receive and acknowledging what we’ve already received. This week marks the beginning of the liturgal season of Advent, something most Christian denominations observe. Not only are we symbolically “waiting” for the birth of Jesus, but many Christians are also waiting for Jesus to return. At the same time, we also believe that God is with us even now.
We believe God is all around us and inside us, yet there is still more God yet to experience.
Maybe you’ve had one of those chocolate Advent calendars that helped build anticipation for Christmas? For me, it was probably more of a way to check off the days until I’d get the presents on the 24th (we always celebrated on Christmas Eve). This was perhaps a greedy way to wait.
There’s a good way to wait and a bad way. And probably hundreds of ways in between those two extremes.
I want to learn how to wait the good way.
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Waiting the good way means not holding onto expectations of how the future is supposed to unfold, or what gifts we should receive. We wait with extended, open hands. We don't shake our must-have lists in the air at God, making ultimatums of what will happen if we don’t get everything we want. We trust that we will receive good things, even if they’re not on our list.
As someone who has been a student of hope for a long time, I’ve realized that waiting is a huge part of hope. It’s a hope that lives in the now and the not yet, content and satisfied, yet fully aware that the story isn’t finished being written. And believes there is good still yet to come. Perhaps even the best.
I believe good is all around us and inside us, yet there is still more good yet to experience.
Henri Nouwen, in The Path of Waiting, is clear that this kind of faith-based living is not easy: “To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”
Psalm 130:5-6 say, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
There’s no question that a watchman waits for the morning sun to appear, knowing that it always will. That’s what I love about these two verses. When we wait for God—when we put our hope in God—we can be certain that just like the rising sun, God will show up. Believing at the same time that we are being held and loved by God even when God’s presence seems far.
This kind of faith and trust, allows us to wait with patience and confidence. No matter how dark it might be today, the sun will come again—and it’s actually still shining, just behind the clouds.
Please hold tightly onto hope while you’re waiting for your clouds to pass.
I’d Love To Hear From You!
If you get a chance, please drop me a short comment or email about what you find valuable about my writings. I’m aiming to write from my heart with the hopes that it connects with others, not knowing exactly what works or what doesn’t. Are there certain topics you’d like me cover? Do you have a specific question you’d like me to try and answer? Should I just keep doing the same type of stuff? I’d find your input incredibly valuable as I head into the new year of writing. Thank you so much! Mark
I Love Christmas Music!
Did you know I’ve released three Christmas CDs? As I toured my annual Hope of Christmas Tour I would go back to the same places and I didn’t want to bore them by performing the same songs over and over. I had to keep coming up with new stuff. My most loved Christmas song is “Emmanuel (You Are With Me)” — you can find it on YouTube or any place you stream music. And because it was heard in the film “The Perfect Gift” (thanks to Kelly & Jefferson Moore!) people all over the world have written to me to express their gratitude for acknowledging that Christmas isn’t always the happiest time of year for a lot of people. (I also act in that film as the main antagonist!)
What is your favorite Christmas music to listen to? It can be overwhelming to keep track of all my favorites, but I’m gonna give it a go.
Mannheim Steamroller - Christmas (the first one- with “Silent Night”)
Michael W. Smith - he’s done 4 - the 1st & 3rd are the best (Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Christmas)
Amy Grant - she’s also done 4 - the 1st is my fav (A Christmas Album)
The Oldies - Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Barbra Streisand, Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, The Carpenters…
Brett Eldredge - have you heard this guy’s voice? He’s a country guy, but man, his voice is so good - he’s done two Christmas albums.
Jamie Cullum is one of my fav jazz piano/vocal guys — he has a great album called The Pianoman at Christmas.
Anything Classical Christmas with choir and orchestra, but especially The Nutcracker.
I’m sure I’m missing some…but there’s a good list for me to remember what to listen to over the coming weeks!! What would you like me to add to the list?