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What Are We Waiting For? Reflections on the Comings of Christ



I’m not a patient person. I wish I was. I work on it regularly, Lord knows, he gives me plenty of opportunities and reminders. 


Consider what it’s like to wait. After a job interview, you replay your answers, wondering if the company will say yes—you linger on in limbo. Or, you’ve gone for a medical test, and with a shuddering sigh leave the hospital, unsure of what happens next on this journey; every time the phone rings, your heart quivers as you look for the unknown number on your call display. 


Waiting in uncertainty like a swimmer in the vast ocean with no direction to go. Fears and apprehension drown our thoughts and emotions when our gaze hits an endless horizon. 


But sometimes we wait another way. 


Our due date approaches, coinciding with an ever-expanding midline, we enthusiastically research the best crib, paint colors and swaddling blankets. We move things around in our home, seek advice from others and make purchases. Notice it’s not a motionless standby, but an active preparation for what’s to come. Even as we look forward to a vacation we’re checking the weather, booking holiday time from work and picking up those last minute things for travel. 


We’re getting ready, preparing for what’s to come. 


With the Christmas season upon us we’re led to advent, from the Latin, adventus, which means “coming.” When we expect something to draw near or come upon us, we first wait for it to arrive. 


The advent season invites us to make space for a time of waiting.


But remember, we don’t always do this well. 


If your list is like mine, there’s scribbles, checkmarks and creases, reminding us to purchase gifts, plan events around shift work and grab groceries for all the baking and cooking. The hustle is part of making our homes and lives ready to celebrate, but if we’re not careful we miss what it is we’re waiting for.


Lamentation 3:25 tells us, “the LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” So, while we may struggle with impatient tendencies, we’re reminded that it’s good to wait.


The Strong’s definition of the Hebrew word qavah (to wait) carries the connotation of binding a rope together by twisting. I think about those twist-ties I used as a kid for kitchen garbage bags, the length of thin metal with a paper sleeve. You’d hold the bag together at the top and wind that strand together repeatedly. Unfortunately, if the garbage bag was too full, you didn’t have much to keep it together and it would come loose with used kleenexes and food wrappers tumbling out.


During advent we wait, preparing our hearts and minds for the comings of Christ. This waiting is active, by binding ourselves to the promises of God in his Word—not loosely or carelessly, but continually in confident assurance.


We immediately connect this season with the birth of Christ— his coming to earth. We celebrate, rightly, that Christ appeared here in human flesh. But our gospel hope is not only in his incarnation, but in his ongoing presence and his coming again. We celebrate his past, present and future comings.


1 He has come 

From the days of the garden sin pervades creation, yet in his grace and mercy God proclaims in Genesis 3:15 a rescuer would come to crush the head of evil. The entire Old Testament looks to and longs for this day. 


As we review the grand narrative we call the Christmas story and remember the beauty and humility of his birth we glimpse with awe and curiosity the master plan of God to deliver our Savior in this way. For, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14), that “ whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).


A sinful world, desperately in need of rescue, rejoices.


2 He is come

Now, we also consider how Christ comes to us in our present moments.


Jerry Bridges posits that, "ungodliness may be defined as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or of one’s dependence on God." (Respectable Sins, 47). 


Although we’re prone to forget him in the grind of our day to day, he’s ever present and continues to intercede for us. 


“But look, the Lord keeps his eye on those who fear him—those who depend on his faithful love to rescue them from death and to keep them alive in famine. We wait for the Lord; he is our help and shield. For our hearts rejoice in him because we trust in his holy name. May your faithful love rest on us, Lord, for we put our hope in you” (Ps 33:18-22).


We are also indwelt by the Spirit who teaches us, corrects us and reminds us of the words and ways of the Son. He extends more grace toward us as he shapes and molds us like a patient potter, prunes us as a diligent gardener, and trains us to run the race with the steadfastness of a champion.


This too we celebrate in advent, for he has come and while we live in the already-not-yet time before he returns, he continues the good work he began as we walk with him.


3 He will come again 

Finally, we wait for his coming again. 


“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb 9:28).

During the period of waiting for Israel until the Messiah’s birth, we observe throughout their history both anticipation and apathy. This isn’t unique to one people, but to all of us. Trevin Wax writes, "I’m convinced that one of the primary causes of this spiritual malaise is our loss of confidence in the truth and goodness of the Christian faith" (The Thrill of Orthodoxy). 


We bear in mind the comings of Christ this season so that the thrill of the gospel renews in our hearts and souls, to guard against indifference and the lukewarm heart of Laodicea.


While I was driving with my youngest, she randomly pipes up with a question, “Mom, will there really be no more crying in heaven?” The innocence of her question, laced with quiet hope made my soul burst with joy. This is why God’s return is exciting, because when he makes all things new again there will be a perfect beauty we can’t imagine through the removal of every effect of sin, and what a glorious day that will be. When every tribe, nation and tongue will gather around the throne of grace to worship the One who is Alpha and Omega.


As we celebrate Christ and his advent, past, present and future, may our hearts be strengthened with confidence in who he is and what he’s doing in and around us, that we would bind ourselves to his great promises of how he has, is and will come to us.




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