The Adventure of Advent
Learning How To Wait - Advent Pt. 3
When I see the word Advent I see the beginning of the word Adventure. See it now, too? When we choose to go on an adventure, it’s usually because the thrill of good stuff that might happen surpasses the fear of the unknown. Advent is a time of waiting, but I believe it’s also a time of adventure. But it all depends on how you wait. I’m choosing to wait with patience, trust, and a great anticipation for what might be ahead.
One early morning when I was living in Nashville, I was driving down the Natchez Trace Parkway, one of the most gorgeous roads in the area—winding roads graced with loads of beautiful trees and wildlife. My favorite part of the Trace is the gorgeous double arch bridge, 1,572 feet long and hanging 145 feet above highway 96 and a heavily wooded valley. I was up early enough this day to see how clouds were completely covering the bridge. Picture me driving with just enough visibility to see the ground fall away beneath me as I drove out onto the bridge, but not enough to see anything below me or on the other side. I had to drive trusting that the bridge would continue on through the clouds and get me to the other side. (Which, of course, it did, or I wouldn’t be writing this right now!)
This is what trusting God has been like for me. I take a step into the fog, and then a streetlight comes on just above me, giving me enough visibility to take the next step.
I’ve certainly prayed for God to show me the next 100 steps. I’d even settle for ten. But I keep getting the next one.
It’s difficult to cruise quickly down life’s highway when we are being forced to slow down and wait for the next step to be revealed. But, while that one step might keep us from moving forward (at least from our limited perspective), the steps are crazy wide. There is a lot that can be done within that one step. Rather than being mad that we’re not one step or one hundred steps ahead, we can stay busy and productive focusing on being right where we are at. You could call this “being present.” While I’m waiting for the next step, God, I will explore all that this one has in it.
But this isn’t a passive resting and waiting. It’s about learning how to let our roots grow deep into a foundation. And then becoming more and more aware of the beauty and meaning that surround us in the present moment. It’s about finding stability in the midst of the storm, not in spite of it—because we know that life will come at us from all angles and try to knock us out.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The command to “be still” comes from the Hebrew term raphah, which, in this context means “to be weak, to let go, or to release.” Instead of just resting and waiting, this verse might be better translated as a command to surrender, in order to know that God is in control.
This passage from Dan Allender in The Healing Path wrecks me:
“God often traps us between our desire and our demands in order to satisfy our deepest hungers with himself alone. He will not lessen our hunger, nor will he feed us when his bread will be viewed as our rightful claim. He will be no one’s butler, only our God. An embrace requires not only open arms, but a heart that is willing to linger with no immediate promise of satisfaction. To walk the healing path, we must wrestle with our refusal to keep traveling between desire and satisfaction, where God neither answers our prayer for healing nor clearly illumines a path away from fear. God lets us wait—not to punish us, not because he has forgotten us, but because our waiting is the crucible he uses to purify our hope for him.”
May this holiday season be a time when your hope becomes purified. A hope that transcends things working out perfectly, getting all your to-do lists completed, or even everyone getting along. You can wait and rest, knowing God is with you, completely overwhelmed with love and passion for you and everyone you know—exactly the way you are right now. What a gift to celebrate!
Last year, about this time, I produced a “virtual” Christmas concert here in my apartment in Minneapolis—with the help of a bunch of friends, too! It’s up on YouTube or you can click on it right here! Hope you enjoy it!