The Waiting Game

I think someone should do a study on perception of time in the month of December.  I swear it went by oh-so-slowly when I was in grade school and the beautiful promise of an entire week off of school made December crawl.  Now the month zooms by with just enough time to get the tree decorated after work, make cookies for a Christmas party, and finish that gargantuan Amazon order so everything arrives on time.  But I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost that sense of the sweetness developed by spending those days waiting, waiting, waiting until that calendar said December 24.

Throw into that mess my singleness and a longing for being home somewhere, and voila! you have the recipe for a December emotional train wreck.  And it shows up at the weirdest times: my roommate and I were decorating our apartment’s Christmas tree with all of its mismatched ornaments and apron-turned-into-tree-skirt glory, and I couldn’t help but wonder how many Christmases will be marked by transience instead of tradition. Pondering the possibility that the answer might be “many” did not bring any sort of sweet anticipation to my heart.

But maybe that’s because, I’ve lost a childlike wonder and childlike anticipation for God’s character and His good gifts.  This season is the celebration of His very best gift – evidence that His love is limitless and full and comes after us, even when we’re train wrecks.

Maybe I’ve forgotten that waiting is part of the Christian experience.  Paul says all of creation is waiting eagerly for the final unveiling (Romans 8:19).  And on top of that, God’s timing is always perfect: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons.”(Galatians 4:4-5).

As a child, waiting for Christmas was hard because I knew that Christmas morning was so absolutely glorious and full of beautiful surprises.  Should it really be that different this Christmas season, no matter what my circumstances?  I have been adopted as His daughter, redeemed from the curse of the Law and promised that those who seek Him lack no good thing.  He has plans for me that are for good, and He will set all things right.  Now that’s something to look forward to!

As we fast and pray this week, let’s pray that He fills our Advent season, even its emotional chasms, with an eager, joyful, expectant longing for Himself — the only gift that will satisfy our heart’s deepest needs.


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14 Responses to The Waiting Game

  1. Niki says:

    A great sermon by John Piper I encourage all to listen:

    “Thomas Watson, a Puritan pastor from 350 years ago, asked in his book, Body of Divinity, “Why does God delay an answer to prayer?” In other words, why would God ever keep us asking and seeking and knocking when he could respond sooner? He gives four answers (Baker Book House, 1979, pp. 399–400). I give these to you for your pondering as we press on in prayer for Freeing the Future:

    1.Because he loves to hear the voice of prayer. “You let the musician play a great while before you throw him down money, because you love to hear this music.”
    2.That he may humble us. We may too easily assume we merit some ready answer, or that he is at our beck and call like a butler, not as sovereign Lord and loving Father.
    3.Because he sees we are not yet fit or ready for the mercy we seek. It may be he has things to put in place—in us or in our church or in the world. There are a million pieces to the puzzle. Some things go first to make a place for the others.
    4.Finally, that the mercy we pray for may be the more prized, and may be sweeter when it comes.”

  2. Jen says:

    Wow. I really needed to hear this today, and just in general. Thank you so much for your thoughts on this – I especially loved the reminder that “waiting is part of the Christian experience”. So true, and yet I so often forget it.

  3. bffMikey says:

    He’ll come. He’ll come.

  4. Lane says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on waiting. At 42, I am still waiting. Recently while praying with a friend about marriage, the Lord again told me I would have to continue to wait. He’s been saying this for many years: “Wait. Hope. Hold fast.” My heart sank upon hearing it again, but as my friend and I continued to pray the Lord relayed the message: “There is living in the waiting.” This last year has been a year of joy in learning to LIVE in the waiting. I have taken up new hobbies, made new friends, and gone ahead doing things I hadn’t before because I was waiting until I got married (like buying nice day china for my kitchen.) It has been exciting to have my mind transformed; that life doesn’t begin when I get married. I am learning to live abundantly in the waiting for earthly marriage and that life is oh-so-full-of-wonder being married to Jesus.

    • fast. pray. says:

      love that phrase! it’s the beautiful irony – that road which seems like it will be an interminable wait is made alive with joy in the process…and it’s applicable to so many more things than marriage!


  5. katy says:

    Christmas can be a hard time as a single, BUT Advent is wonderful as a single…waiting is something I know and feel the pain of, so a season that celebrates waiting and makes it more joyful is a welcome break.

    Waiting often feels hopeless, but during Advent, waiting for a spouse (job, child, fill in blank here) feels like hopeful anticipation of God’s goodness in His timing. Waiting at Advent doesnt feel like I am stuck, but like I am preparing …I hope to carry that hope throughout next year and not just December.

    Advent waiting not only reminds me to anticipate God’s blessings in my life, BUT to ALSO anticipate Christ’s return

    this ADVENT article discusses how all anticipation points us to our longing for Christ, first and foremost. Hoping my singleness is not wasted this holiday season–using my anticipation for a spouse to cause me to think about my anticipation for Christ’s return.

    • fast. pray. says:

      great thoughts, katy. truly, i’ve been thinking about how single women who long to be married have something to share with the larger body of christ (or world, for that matter) about looking for, longing for, hoping for, and anticipating the return of Jesus–the bridegroom, the king. i don’t have it all worked out inside of me, but the resonance is real.

      thanks for writing…


  6. Ray says:

    Week after week these postings are filled with wisdom. In the high school chapel I facilitate each week, we discussed last week that in Psalm 62 there is held forth the notion of waiting in silence, that there are times to be silent, to listen, to be still. Of course we know the other part of “be still . . .” it is of course, “and know that I am God.” I encouraged the kids and myself to take time this Advent to do things that allow for solitude or silence like a long walk, start a journal, and even fast a meal. What I find so difficult when I am waiting on God is that I am waiting on the answer, not him. Approaching threescore and ten, what I wait for is different–both being able to finish well and not necessarily wanting to experience the finishing stretch when breath and muscles ache for the finish line. It helps to know he’s waiting there for me and, indeed, is running alongside.

  7. Susan says:

    Amy –
    As you often do…you hit the nail on the head today!! This will be my first EVER Christmas alone, divorced, not in a relationship and my young adult children are no longer living with me. Actually, I will not be truly alone I have our Lord the King…

    I should wake up Christmas morn and just sing sing sing!

    ps = Thank you!!

  8. apb82 says:

    I actually just finished a conversation with my dad on this very topic of waiting. I reach this point sometimes where i’m completely over the wait, but I’m usually able to pull myself back (I’ve actually been there lately). But today my father reminded me of three very important facts: God loves me. He’s always there. And a wait on God is never wasted. I’ve always been able to depend on these to get me back to where I need to be when i’m tired. Great post:)!

    • Susan says:

      apb82 – What wise counsel your father gave to you!!!

      Might he be single too?

    • Ranee says:

      My father also encourages me by saying,”sometimes it takes longer for others but its coming!!” The wait seems endless at times and I become discouraged but I have to remind myself that God will give me my hearts desire.

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