Advent: The Discipline of Waiting

Advent Candles

Waiting…it seems to be a theme lately. At the moment, I am waiting on a FedEx delivery that should have been here on Monday and it is now Friday. I have a text saying it is out for delivery, but I got one saying the same thing yesterday, which was redYoung Manacted later saying it was rescheduled. Young Man is also waiting on this particular delivery since it contains his food and his food bowl is currently empty. He doesn’t like waiting any more than I do and has been very vocal about the situation. I can only imagine what it was like for Elizabeth and Zacharias who had been waiting their whole lives for a child, and the children of Israel who had been waiting for The Messiah for centuries. My wait time is substantially shorter, but some things really are worth the wait.

Growing up, my church didn’t participate in advent, so I don’t know much about it. However, this year I wanted to find out the purpose behind the practice, so I did a little research. One article discussed the discipline of waiting and why advent has been pushed aside by many Christians (Read Article). The gist of it is that we don’t like waiting, so we start talking about Christmas the day after Halloween and some people start even before Halloween is over. You have probably heard the expression “killing time,” which is what most people think waiting is: a waste of time. Yet, there is something to be learned in any situation, including waiting.  In a previous blog (Postponed) I talked about the benefits of looking forward to something, and while the wait for The Messiah is long past, the wait for His return is not and there is something to be gained from the waiting process. God often speaks more clearly in the waiting than He does in the answer to our prayers.

Advent is observed during the four weeks prior to Christmas with a candle being lit on each Sunday. The first candle, which is purple, represents hope. It is also called the prophecy candle in remembrance of the prophets, like Isaiah, who foretold of The Messiah’s coming. Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” The Messiah was to be a light in the darkness, a beacon of hope. He still is today. Even now we wait for His return so that He can shed light in a world of darkness and renew all of creation. In the meantime, we can be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) by letting Christ shine through us while we wait for His return.

Even if you don’t have an advent wreath with candles to light, take a moment from the hectic bustle to remember what we are waiting for…The Messiah. Because of Him we have hope, hope for a better future. So, be a candle that shines the light of hope in a dark world this Christmas season and all year long.

 

Making Waves

Waves

Have you ever been reading something and realized you had no idea what you had just read? Or have you left church on a Sunday morning and could not recall what the topic of the pastor’s sermon was? Words have a lot of power, power to hurt or to heal, power to freeze or to motivate, but they only have power when they penetrate our spirit. It is only when God’s Word moves within us and begins to make waves that it can make an impact on the world around us.

I was recently reading an article on sound waves and the concepts of reflection, absorption, and transmission. It struck me that those 3 concepts could be applied to how we, as believers, react to the Word of God.

 

Reflection is when sound waves hit a hard object and bounces back, causing echoes. Echo or ReflectionSometimes the Word of God cannot penetrate our spirit because we have become hardened by unconfessed sin in our lives. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Sin becomes a barrier that blocks communication with God. It is times like these when we often feel our prayer are bouncing back to us unheard. The barrier works both ways, blocking our prayers as well as our ability to hear God in the way that we should. We have to be open to the Word in order for it to work in our lives.

Sound AbsorptionAbsorption is when something like a wall absorbs the sound waves. The waves go in but not all the way. Sometimes we put up walls because we are not willing to hear the words God has for us. We hear Him speaking, but we don’t want to listen. James 1:22 says “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” If we absorb the word, but do nothing with it, then it becomes useless.

Sound TransmissionTransmission is when sound waves penetrate through. This is when we hear what God has to say to us. When the Word penetrates our spirit and we take in the Word, it can make a difference in our lives. As in the parable of the seeds, our spirits can be the good ground where the seed takes root and produces fruit (Luke 8:1-15). We become conduits for God’s Word, living it out in our daily lives and transmitting it out into the world.

Once it goes out into the world, our part is done. It is up to God and the individuals we encounter whether the Word is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted. Our job is to keep the lines of communication open by praying and confessing our sins to God, listening to His Word through Bible study, and being obedient to what we hear. As God stirs our hearts, He make waves that spill out of our hearts and into the world around us. So, if you want to make a difference in the world, go to the source and let him start a ripple in your heart that will reverberate across the world.