“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in his word I hope.”
Open-ended waiting is the hardest kind of waiting for me. While waiting at stop lights, checkout lines and doctor’s offices can try my patience, at least I know for certain that I will be done with those things before too long. I can see that my place in line is now three back, or that my appointment is now 20 minutes past due, and I can know –even in my frustration and irritation—that my needs will be tended to soon.
Waiting for God is so different from any other type of waiting. We do not know how long we will be left to wait, if we are meant to be doing something while we wait, or if we are meant to do nothing at all. We sometimes do not even have a clear picture of what we are waiting for. We just know God’s voice has gone quiet, or his presence within our hearts has vanished from our awareness, and so we wait for him to return, to connect with us again.
This type of waiting requires faith and trust that go beyond anything humanly possible.
As I sat this week wondering what exactly it is I’m waiting for God to do (after all he has already become incarnate in Jesus and in a more general way incarnate in each of us and throughout all of creation) so, why wait at all? Because what kind of Christians are we, really, if we don’t believe and understand that every day God dwells among us? Put another way, “Every day is Christmas!” which was the enthusiastic reminder of our priest last year at the Christmas Mass we attended.
And I felt the truth in it as he said it.
So what, then, am I waiting for this season?
I would be lying if I said I knew the answer to that.
Can we always know what it is we are waiting for from God? And are we even meant to know?
I rather doubt it.
While I did feel divinely inspired earlier in the week to point out and recognize my own personal “kingdoms” of Christmas, I know from experience that without God’s help I am completely incapable of letting them go.
Then, by mid-week I realized one thing that would help me. Instead of focusing my sites on which of my “kingdoms” to let go of this season, I needed to keep within my vision what it is I can hold on to throughout Advent. And it was that realization that led me to this:
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
It is a verse commonly read at weddings, (including my own) and is one that now, eighteen years later, I have a different and deeper understanding of than I ever could have had as a twenty-something bride. That’s what healthy relationships do over time, isn’t it? They broaden our perspective, deepen our understanding and unify us with another to the point that words become less necessary, expectations become less demanding, and we begin to trust the other to the point of being content and grateful just being together. There is not always a need to do something, except be present in each moment as it comes, knowing that whatever happens next, we will face together.
And that is where I found God today.
With all the talk of “preparation and waiting” I’d begun to think I was doing something wrong by not putting up my Nativity yet, not saying the right prayers for Advent, not doing this, not doing that; when I suddenly remembered that the God of Advent is the same exact God he was before Advent. And the same exact God he has been throughout my entire life, and throughout every year, century, and millennia before me.
He is the same God who has borne every trial with me, who has believed in me every step of the way, who has hoped all the best for me (in spite of my sometimes bad choices), and who has endured every injustice I’ve ever suffered right alongside me.
He has never failed me.
And while I may not know exactly what I am waiting for right now, nor how long I will be waiting, I am happy and relieved to be reminded today that the One I am waiting for, is also the One with whom I wait.