Do you remember that time in your childhood when the hardest, yet most exciting thing you had to wait for, was Christmas morning? Christmas Eve would arrive, and all day the anticipation would run through your small, Energizer Bunny arms and legs. The moment you had waited for for 364 days, was almost there. Then bed time would come, only butterflies had taken up residence in your kid-sized belly, and sleeping didn’t feel like an option. Your parents tucked you in under the covers, turned off the light, and closed the door to your bedroom. And then, staring up at the ceiling–trying to will yourself to sleep–you WAITED.
Those were the days.
If only we had known as children that waiting was going to be a staple of our adult lives. That the things that we want most in life aren’t usually found wrapped under the Christmas tree. And that Santa wasn’t really able to bring us things like a new job, a new place to live, friendships, or even someone to grow old with. (Cause as we all know now, Santa wasn’t even able to get our presents under the tree without a little help from mom and dad!)
Ironically though, the arrival of each Christmas Season has a funny way of echoing our Christmas’ past, by reminding us of the things in our lives that we are now most anxiously awaiting. It may be because it is right before we start a new year. Or it could be because Christmas means seeing relatives that will ask us loaded questions that we don’t even like to ask ourselves (like “Are you dating anyone?” or “Where are you working these days?”). Finally, perhaps it is because at the very foundation of the first Christmas was a prophecy–a promise–that a group of people waited over 700 years to see fulfilled.
In the book of Isaiah, written 750 years before Jesus was born, we find words that are almost as familiar to us as Frosty the Snowman:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
All through the Old Testament, God promised His people, the Israelites, that He would send the Messiah–the One who would save them from slavery and brokenness. They waited with expectation–some dying long before Jesus’ birth. Others probably began to believe that God had forgotten them, but He hadn’t. He was seeing the picture of all of Time, when we only have the ability to see our lives, right now.
In His perfect timing, we are told that Jesus was born in the middle of the night, long ago, in a humble stable. God hadn’t forgotten.
The Story of Christmas is one in which we are reminded that God hasn’t forgotten us in our waiting. That we aren’t the only ones very aware of where we are feeling empty or as if there is a gap in our lives, waiting to be fulfilled. He is aware of us and our waiting. In fact, it is often in these times of longing that He wants to meet us, and be with us as we wait in incredibly real ways.
So, as the Christmas season begins to shine a big spotlight on a place you may be waiting in your life, know that this holiday isn’t for the happy people with perfect lives (aka the people in the target commercials). This season is for you and for me–for all of us who need to be reminded that we are not forgotten, and that there is still much to hope for!
This post is Linked up with Tanya Marlow’s Advent Series.