Advent Week One: Embrace the Mess.

My favorite Christmas song is the advent song, “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” And the reason why I find it so beautiful and moving has something to do with its music, but also its lyrics. The lyrics really manage to capture the human condition, as well as the hope for deliverance, a static waiting room, and then the promise that God will come, and make all these things right again.

Essentially: things are not right now, but they will be right.

But this isn’t the way I like things. I want to be better now; I want broken relationships to be fixed now; I want to have answers now; I want to have my circumstances change now. I want my ducks in a row, I want my t’s crossed and my i’s dotted. I want order out of chaos.

And so I usually become impatient because things are not right now. I could wait forever if things were fine. If the waiting room has cable television, good magazines, snacks, and reclining chairs, I could wait all day. I could wait for years.

But usually, waiting involves sitting in uncomfortable chairs. It involves boredom. It involves going without, or being hungry. It involves knowing things could be better, but having to cope with what’s available. It involves discomfort.

The other week I was brooding on this while I was making dinner. I’m a naturally impatient person, and there are all kinds of things in my life that are just a matter of waiting. Waiting for the right time. Waiting for God’s timing. Waiting for the moons to align, maybe. At any rate, it’s not cut and dry, things aren’t put together, those moons haven’t aligned; things are messy.

And since I’m a person who comes from a long line of premature Christmas music listeners, I was listening to some premature Christmas music, and O Come O Come Emmanuel came on. And in my brooding state I thought: “That is all life is; life is waiting. Waiting for something good to happen. And I’m tired of waiting.”

But here’s the catch that I realized pretty much immediately after that thought: Life is not all about waiting. The things in my life that I’m waiting for have ultimately already been taken care of; they’ve been taken care of through the coming of Jesus Christ. We celebrate Advent, but it’s a different kind of Advent than Israel’s waiting for a Savior. Jesus has already come. The end has been determined: It is finished, and it is good.

So while we’re waiting and praying for the messy things in life to sort themselves out, we can at least be assured of this: We’re not waiting for a Savior anymore. Life isn’t a waiting game. Even with all its messes, imperfections and problems, there is no wait.

And even more importantly, Jesus is proof that God will work with me despite the fact that things aren’t all right, and despite the fact that I’m a mess half the time. God didn’t leave us to wait and suffer; he sent us his son. And we find wholeness and comfort in him.

 

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