Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
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,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
Waiting is necessary to hoping. There’s no way around it. If you are hoping than you are waiting.
Waiting is the realization that the end, the goal, the arrival, is not yet. And in that realization choosing to still hold out for what is anticipated.
We cannot hope for what we already have. By choosing to hope we choose to wait. It cannot be otherwise.
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. –Romans 8:24-25 (ESV)
Sometimes it seems like waiting is forward motion ceased. Like things are at a standstill, and we expended all resources and ideas of our own. And maybe that is exactly where God wants us. Still. Emptied of self. In need of His intercession.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. –Romans 8:26-28 (The Message)
Do you remember what it was like to wait for Christmas as a child? Maybe you weren’t the Christmas obsessed child that I was, but growing up my advent season was marked with vivacious waiting. I had multiple advent calendars, counting down the days to Christmas as creatively as I could. Every day of the season was magic, especially as it marked one less day to wait. It was as if everything stood still and all I could see was the 25th of December in bold, blinking lights. And that night before Christmas, the climax of it all? That night was spent with eyes that couldn’t shut, alert and waiting…waiting for dawn.
Maybe we could all use a little childlike hope this Christmas. The kind of hope that keeps looking. That stays up late, eyes peeled for light and ears attune to any ringing bell. The kind of watchmen waiting for the first signs of arrival. The kind of hope that loses track of the daily tasks and consuming anxieties and sees every day of the wait as pure magic.
I don’t know when it was, but at some point as a matured I realized that my favorite day of the year wasn’t Christmas day, but rather Christmas Eve. The thick anticipation, the rich longing, the tingling excitement of what was to come was to me as magical, if not more, than the actual arrival.
My analogy is not perfect. We wait for something grander than we can know. We wait for the righting of what is wrong. We wait for a revelation from God. We of course cannot expect the season of brokenness to be better than of restoration, or the darkness to outshine the light that is to come. The arrival will not disappoint.
But perhaps there is more magic in the waiting than we know. Maybe hope is sparkling with a holiness we have been missing.
I know we’re in the adult world now, where the world cannot stop for Christmas like it did as a child. But maybe, in the middle of this week, we can stop for a moment and bask in a little of that childlike magic as we hope for what’s to come.