Written by Justin McRoberts
Near the heart of the Christmas / Advent Story is the expectation that God is going to offer a gift.
The head-fake in this Bible story is that, when those waiting come up on or are given that gift, it’s just a baby.
We know people everywhere have surrounded Jesus’ birth with all kinds of magic imagery, sparkles and theme music since then. But for people who had been waiting for some kind of earth-shattering, socio-cultural and political sign of change, that had to be at least somewhat confusing and disappointing. If this was the gift, it meant having to wait. Again.
In fact, according to the timeline in those same Scriptures, the next time there is anything of significance to be made of the life of Jesus, it’s 30 years later.
And then, after 3 years of work with a small community, Jesus is arrested and those following him have to wait. Again.
And then he is murdered by the State (at the hands of religious power), and those following him have to wait. Again.
Here is the thing: I don’t think that process ever ends. I don’t think the waiting ever ends. And I’ve begun to think that’s the case because the primary fruit of waiting is my formation and becoming; not getting what I’m wanting.
In fact, I think that waiting – as a practice in and of itself – changes me so that I want differently (and better). Sometimes, even if the thing I’ve waited for is exactly what I expected it to be, by the time I come upon it or possess it, I’ve changed.
Over time, my hopes and desires have changed. I try not to expect particular results or gifts or moments. Instead, I hope that my will is refined and changed. That, through my waiting, I can want differently and want more and want better.
I want differently.
I want more.
I want better.
And I think that might be the point.
The spiritual process / journey isn’t about grasping God or attaining personal greatness or holiness the way I’d grab or attain an item at K-Mart. It’s about becoming. The tension and disappointment and patience necessary for waiting shapes me into someone who wants differently, wants more and wants better – so that, in the pursuit of better things, I grow. Again.
Wishing you the gift of waiting and hoping for different, more and better this Christmas season.