Advent . . . waiting for Jesus to come
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel . . . Micah 5:2
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1
Yesterday, in both morning and evening study groups I have been a part of this fall, we concluded our time together by telling each other a portion of our God-story. Each woman told how the story of God’s redeeming grace has intersected with her story. Each woman courageously described a broken place in her life, how she realized what Jesus offered to her in that broken place, the unique way she turned to Jesus to receive that grace, and how God had met her and continued his gracious work. The stories were as varied as the women in the room but each was profoundly beautiful.
Advent is all about waiting for Jesus to come. As we step into this hectic time of preparing for all our Christmas season has become—with the shopping, decorating, eating, gathering, and running around it entails—the call to wait is a healthy corrective for us. Within this sacred space of four weeks in real time, looking forward with hope to the coming of our Lord, I find it also helps to look backward.
I can make time to look back to just yesterday, and ask God to show me where he has already come. Where did I feel truly alive? What was I doing and what was God doing right then? Where did the life seem to be drained from me? Why was that? And how did I respond? How could God have been speaking even then? Where was God at work where I didn’t even notice it? As I attend to my own life, I discover his presence in my ordinary day. And I realize he is the God who comes.
When I look back over time, I am reminded of God’s many good gifts in each of the seasons he has brought me through. I smile as I think of the joy and blessing of the good times; I am amazed by light of his presence in some of the darkest times; I become aware of how he somehow brought good out of what appeared beyond hope; and I realize he is the God who comes.
When I look back to Jesus’ first coming, I see how he came in a way no one expected. Where we expected power, he came in vulnerability; where we expected privilege and status. he came in humility; where it looked to us like a bad plan—one helpless baby come to change the world—God revealed that his way is most often slow, personal and unpredictable. . . and always loving, good and purposeful. As I look back at how God did work, I can choose to release my expectations and demands for God to come in my way. And I open my life to the God who comes.
This Advent, we celebrate the God who came in Jesus, we receive the God who comes to us in each moment, and we long for God who will come again in glory. As we enter this waiting season, let’s take the time to consider how God’s story is intersecting with ours. He is the God who comes to us.