Before I started writing I was reminded that this edition of The Window would take us past Christmas. Something that, as a parent, I’m encouraged to not say out loud for at least another 6 weeks, just in case the anticipation will create an
uncontrollable excitement (from the children, of course).
I find that there is something strange about the anticipation of Christmas, where the build up and the planning has as much joy in it than the celebration itself. We find ourselves looking through catalogues, making gift lists, shopping for others, wrapping presents, planning food, opening advent calendars, writing cards, hanging up cards, putting up the tree and decorations, singing carols, lighting candles and generally tiring ourselves out before the big day itself arrives.
Of course, the season of Advent is all about waiting, it is all about anticipation of what is to come. But, in a world where in just a few clicks you can have food delivered to your door in minutes and shopping ready to collect in hours, waiting has become something of an art.
A few years ago, a well know pizza delivery company did an analysis of people’s experience in ordering pizza. They mapped out an emotional rollercoaster from starting the order to eating the order. They found that the moments of greatest excitement were linked to the moment the order is placed and when you hear the doorbell ring. But the gap between the two, the waiting, was largely reported as being a negative experience. They responded by introducing, for online orders, the ability to see what stage your order was at; being prepared, being cooked, being boxed, being delivered. More recently they added the ability to follow the driver on a map until they get to your door!
Studies show that if you know that a process is moving forward, even if you can’t see it, the users experience of waiting is improved. It’s a bit like appeasing a child by allowing them to see the gifts slowly amounting under the tree, having a small square of chocolate each day, or perhaps giving one a feel and a shake. Or, without permission, peeping through a corner of broken wrapping paper. We want to wait until Christmas, but we also want to know more than we already do.
We’ve had to do an awful lot of waiting over the last year and a half. Waiting to know what was safe and what was not, waiting for action, then waiting to see people, waiting on an immunisation, waiting on a cure, waiting on test results, waiting and waiting for “normal” to return. The same process of improving the experience of waiting, was followed by our government; daily updates on how the process was moving forward, with expected dates always on the horizon for the easing of restrictions.
Again the same is true of us as we wait on the Lord. We all wait for different things, but ultimately, we wait for Him to act. That may be through answered prayer or healings, perhaps for provision, it may be for someone’s salvation, it may be for a revelation. We all wait, but is it patiently?
The Bible is filled with encouragements to be patient, to wait on the Lord even to rest in Him. The Psalms are littered with examples and Lamentations (3:26) adds “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (ESV). In this verse we are told that, firstly, it is good to wait, and also that we should do so quietly.
I feel like we, and I mean humans in general, find that the quietly part is much harder. So, what can we do to encourage one another to wait quietly and patiently on the Lord? I find the best answer in Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Let us keep on doing good, let us keep on directing people to Christ, let us keep on being a people of God who see Him answer prayers, that see Him providing, that see Him healing, that see Him revealing himself and we see salvation come to individuals.
And as we see God in action, we can share these stories and we can celebrate these revelations, just like a “your parcel is out for delivery” email may make you excited, just like the advent windows begin to start the anticipation for Christmas. Hearing that God is at work says to us all the salvation of the Lord is coming.