I’ve shared this haiku before. I wrote it several years ago and for me it captures the essence of how we do Christmas. We hustle around trying to do it all and even if we don’t quite feel the merry in our heart we put on that bright, merry smile anyway, assuming that if we fake it long enough it will be true. We hope that we end up with the pure delight.
I’m not against a little hustle and hurry because that can be exciting. I used to love to go out on or near Christmas Eve when everyone was making that last mad dash for presents. There was something magical about being in the bustling crowd getting caught up in the flurry of the season, but all too often we allow the hustle and hurry to take over and steal our joy.
For too many years, I got caught up in the wrappings of the season and wanting everything to be just perfect with the end goal of sitting in the peacefulness of white lights and a perfectly coordinated Christmas. Of course, a lot of times that peace eluded me because I was so exhausted from all the running around gathering up the perfect bits and pieces that would somehow make Christmas more special.
A few years ago, Christmas was already over, when I finally sat down and started reading a Max Lucado Christmas book I had left over from gift books I’d purchased. Reading it was peaceful and it helped me focus on the real meaning of Christmas in a way I hadn’t before. I wondered why I hadn’t started the season by reading this book; it would have made all the difference.
I’m still working on the right balance during the Christmas season, but little by little, I’m learning to drop the need for perfect. I’m learning to let go of much of the hustle, bustle, hurry. I’m learning to hold onto the cold, bright, pure delight instead. Especially, the pure delight.
Pure delight is wrapped up in the Christ Child. It is the core of all we celebrate. The pure delight is the one for whom we wait. God With Us.
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23
What if, instead of the hurry this season, we just started with the anticipation of the pure delight. What if instead of waiting impatiently in line, arms crossed, fingers tapping and heavy sighs, we open our arms with palms lifted up, waiting to receive; waiting for the pure delight that Immanuel offers.
Waiting does not necessarily come naturally to us. If we take time away from our hustle and bustle for rest, we somehow feel that we aren’t doing enough. We think it means that we are unproductive. If we’re searching for direction we want the answer to come immediately, even though, learning to rest and wait might be the answer that is most needed. We complain about how God is silent and doesn’t seem to be hearing our petitions.
He does hear, but sometimes, I think the silence is necessary to slow us down. Do you remember, as a child in school, when the class was rowdy how the teacher would stand quietly at the front of the room staring calmly. Eventually, everyone would start to notice and pretty soon, it would quiet down and once the teacher had everyone’s attention, she spoke.
I imagine that is how it is with God sometimes. He just quietly stands close by waiting until he has our attention. What seems like waiting too long, is not a punishment, or God ignoring us, it is simply because he knows we need time to be ready for his revelation.
The children of Israel waited a long time for the Messiah. They had been hearing the promise for many years before it was brought to fruition. I’m sure they must have wondered about God’s silence, but still, those who were faithful waited because they knew that he was there, standing, watching out for them, even when he didn’t speak. They knew when the time was right all would be revealed. They waited with anticipation for God With Us.
I found a prayer written in the back of my Bible that I penned a few years ago about waiting on God. I’d like to share it with you.
I wait for you in the silence and even though you don’t speak I know you are there. You know my name, you know my struggle and you care. You will sustain me; you will be my strength. You will come in your time and shed the light of your presence upon me.
I don’t remember the circumstances of what prompted that prayer, but I am beginning to understand the faith in praying that prayer and waiting for him to come. He will bring the pure delight. After all, he is God With US.
I hope during this season of Advent that you will wait for the pure delight to enter your heart and you will ease into this holy season with a renewed faith in the waiting.
Waiting in grace,
Today’s post is 1st in an Advent series, one for each week of Advent. Wait, Watch, Prepare and Praise. This one is a little late in the first week, but I still wanted to include it because I think the waiting is important. Please join me next week for week 2 as we watch.