Asia is a recent AMBS grad, retreat speaker and former youth pastor. She lives Hillsboro, Kansas, with her husband and daughters where they attend First Mennonite Church. Asia likes board games, gives lots of high-fives and thinks she’s funnier than she probably is.
Back in October I teased my daughters, “The only reason I had you was to eat your Halloween candy.” My nine-year-old deadpanned right back at me, “No, you also had us for the Legos.” She’s right. I clearly remember taking a trip with my husband to the local Toys ‘R Us / Babies ‘R Us when we were expecting her. We were not distracted by the cute baby booties or high tech strollers, but by the dozens and dozens of Lego sets we would someday have an excuse to buy.
Spoiler alert: my girls are getting Legos for Christmas. They always do. “You have to have something to build on Christmas!” I tell my husband, who needs no persuasion on this matter. This year they are each getting a small house with an elaborate interior of furniture and accessories. It’s Legos meets tiny doll house and it’s amazing.
They will want to put them together right away, and I will helpfully sort the pieces by shape and color as they build. (Something about that delights my brain.) The houses will be about half constructed when my girls get frustrated. “Can’t we just play with them already?” They will want to put the tiny dollies to sleep in their tiny beds, and bake adorable little loaves of bread in miniature ovens, and stoke orange-clear fires in diminutive fireplaces. They will want to make homes in their houses that remain half-built with missing walls and roofs. It’s so hard to wait!
Advent is a season of waiting, and we are tempted to skip right to Christmas.
I am in my own season of waiting, and I hate it. Years ago, God called me into ministry. Since then God has prepared me through experience and education. (I am finally, officially, finishing seminary this week. Shout-out to AMBS!) And now I am waiting for God to use me. And waiting.
I have been applying for full-time ministry positions for some time, and so far — for a variety of reasons — it hasn’t worked. In the meantime, I have been substitute teaching which is kinda fun. And I continue to work on retreats and ministry projects, but it’s not what I want to be doing. I want a place to serve that is mine; I want my gifts to be used; I want a meaningful purpose to my life; I want a career in my profession. I have faith that these things will come, but in the meantime, I have been in a protracted season of waiting, and I’m tired of it.
My gelassenheit, my yieldedness to God and God’s plans, is running weak. I have started to worry, “Does God really have a plan for me?” I am tempted to begin to force solutions on my own. Like my daughters, though my house may be only half-built, I want to set it up and PLAY. I am tired of waiting for the right time, the right call, the right place.
Advent is a season of waiting and as people, we want to skip the waiting and get to the good stuff.
Just like my girls, we want to skip the build up and go right to the living out. Just like me, we want to skip the season of patience and preparation and go right to the fruition. We don’t like waiting in the dark, uncertain, gestation of Advent and instead want to move immediately to celebration of baby Jesus. But the waiting is important, and if we skip it, our houses will fall down.
We have begun to call December “the Christmas Season” and characterize it with holiday celebration following celebration. But the season is already named Advent for the advent or coming of the Christ. Jesus is coming, but he isn’t here yet.
It is important for my daughters to build all the walls of their Lego houses before being satisfied. It is important for me to be shaped in my season of fallow ground, before I begin planting.
It is important for us to experience the waiting of Christmas, so that we might fully be prepared for the realization of Christmas.
I pray that I can sit in the discomfort of my waiting season, so when my call comes my heart will be fully prepared. I pray the same for all of us at Advent. That we may sink into the waiting and uncertainty, so that when Christ comes our hearts will be fully prepared.