“But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.'” (Luke 1:13)
Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. What is the focus of the Advent season? Primarily, Advent is a time of waiting. As children, we wait to see what presents are under the tree. As adults, we wait for the needed Christmas break from the demands of business. Zechariah waited his whole life for the birth of his son John. As Christians, we wait for the celebration of the central historical event of our faith – the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the waiting itself can be instructive. I suggest there are two aspects of waiting that we should all reflect on during our “Advent” waiting in the next few weeks.
1) The aspect of Preparation
These are experiences where, for a period of time, God puts us into a time of preparation for a later ministry or service or vocation that he will call us to. At the time, we may not even be aware that we are being prepared. But later, with hindsight looking back, we may recognize these times. This aspect usually begins with the sense that what you are currently doing is not what you are destined for. Some of you may be in a time of preparation right now for some future focus that God has for you.
A good biblical example of this would be Moses. Although he was given the education of an Egyptian prince, he fled Egypt at the age of 40 and spent his next 40 years living in the wilderness with the Midianites – tending sheep. How often he must have wondered if this was to be his lot in life. With his royal education as an Egyptian prince, was he to die an outcast and a shepherd? Little did he know that he was in God’s waiting room of preparation. He was learning the ways of the desert so that late in life, at the age of 80, he could be used to lead God’s people out of Egypt into the desert, the very same conditions that he had been living in for the previous 40 years.
Just as Moses could not have possibly understood God’s grand plan for his life while in the Sinai desert, so there are “desert” times in our lives where we must wait upon His timing and plan to be revealed. The important thing is to live faithfully in the moment and do the best you can at what you are doing and wait upon God’s timing for the future.
2) The aspect of Timing
This aspect is illustrated by Abraham’s life story. In Hebrews 11 we are told he had the promise that God would make him a great nation, he did not question it. What was hard for him was the long delay in time before the fulfillment of the promise.
In a similar way, we know that God desires the best for us, he has promised to guide us, and listen to our prayers – we understand that. But when our prayers go unanswered, or a difficult situation remains unresolved for a long time, or we are chafing under a difficult business situation that we are praying will change – then we can quickly grow weary of waiting upon God’s timing. At times we can become fearful or even question our faith. May I refer you to Abraham and Zechariah?
For 25 years Abraham waited for the birth of Isaac to fulfill God’s. For their whole married lives, Zechariah and Elisabeth prayed for a child until the angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah that his prayer had been heard and that Elisabeth would give birth to John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the Lord. Keep those time frames in mind the next time you feel that God is taking a long time in answering your prayers.
Such is the rhythm of Advent. Waiting, for the incarnation – the best promise that God has not abandoned us and has a plan for us.
- What future activity or focus may God be preparing you for?
- During your 2018 Forum Christmas gathering – share how waiting to celebrate the Incarnation helps you to wait upon other concerns in your life.
John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca