I love the Christmas season…the sights, sounds, and smells. I even love the urgency of trying to find just the right gift. This season evokes memories of Christmases’ past and the joy they brought. As a kid, waiting through the week before Christmas was the hardest part of the season, and sleeping on Christmas Eve was practically impossible. When I woke on Christmas morning, I knew gifts from Santa would be at the fireplace plus more underneath the tree for us to unwrap during the chaos of the morning. Even now, as an adult with children of my own, it’s often difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve knowing the excitement awaiting us the following morning.
As I reflect on the Christmas season, I can’t help but wonder what the waiting was like thousands of years ago as God prepared to give the greatest gift the world ever received. How did He know Mary was the one? After He revealed His plan to Mary, did the nine months of waiting drag by slowly? And as the time got closer, was Mary excited for the ultimate gift God was about to give? Scripture tells us that she “treasured all these things in her heart,” so she must have felt at least a little bit of excitement. And what about the people receiving the ultimate gift? How did they feel after waiting such a long time for the Messiah to arrive?
Waiting isn’t something we’re good at doing. In our society today, we’ll do just about anything to find a way around it. But the beauty of God’s work is that He doesn’t do that. Waiting is an essential part of how He works. Just as they waited for Jesus to arrive all those years ago, today, we’re waiting for Him to return to restore and heal a broken world.
We see this clearly in the familiar Christmas carol, “O Holy Night.” The song is about Jesus’ birth, but the world it describes, in sin and error pining, is still relevant to us today. Jesus’ birth paved the way for us to be made right with God, and as the song says, feel our soul’s worth, but only His return will bring our world the peace and restoration it was created to experience. And so, we continue to wait, for what a holy night that will be!
The beauty of God’s gift is in the waiting, even though that’s not how this world teaches us to live. The waiting is where we see the details come together in ways only God can orchestrate. So, as you’re unwrapping and celebrating what has already come, set your eyes on what’s to come and let that anticipation lead your steps not only as you go into Christmas day but into the new year.
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