Scott Postma

A blog about the Great Books, the Craft of Writing, and Human Flourishing.

Waiting for Strength

Yesterday was the beginning of Advent Season.

Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus, meaning “coming,” and it’s typically used in reference to two events: the incarnation of Christ and the Parousia of Christ.

In the western context, Advent is observed during the four Sundays immediately preceding Christmas, while the eastern churches begin the observance in mid-November.

Advent is a season of holy anticipation, a time to contemplate the significance of the birth of Christ in the context of the Old Testament saints watching for the coming Messiah.

As the church now occupies the time in history between the first Advent of Christ and his Parousia, it’s also a time to think about the Second Coming of Christ, and all that means for our future.

Put simply, Advent is a time of the year preceding the celebration of Christmas, the first Advent of Christ, for Christians to contemplate what it means to wait on the Lord.

Practically speaking, it’s a time for us practice patience concerning what the Lord is up to in our lives and the world at large.

You’ve heard it before: Americans live in a culture of microwaves, fast-food, and instant access to the internet. Instead of progress that has made our lives richer, we have advocated for a progress that has frequently made our lives more fragmented and frazzled.

We have learned how to be busy instead of productive.

We have learned to work out of necessity, rather than out of rest.

We have learned to be active instead of contemplative.

In other words we long for the destination at the expense of appreciating the journey.

Ironically, the Christmas season only seems to exasperate this condition—at least that’s true for many Americans. There are parties to attend, gifts to buy and wrap, cookies and crafts and food to make, and lots of places to be and people to please. It’s a season of hurry, scurry, fret and worry.

This kind of activity is wonderful if we celebrate patiently, and worship reflectively. But that’s not the case as often as we would like it to be.

On this first day of Advent, I was reminded how much I need to wait on the Lord. Like many Americans, I am in too much of a hurry sometimes.

Sometimes, I want to have finished reading, rather than to be reading.

Sometimes, I want the pastor to be finished with the sermon, so I can do the thing, instead of being quiet in order to let the Word continue speaking to me.

Sometimes, I want to get through my prayer list when it’s better that I just be still and know that He is God.

Sometimes, I want to communicate with my wife by telling her how to fix the issue, instead of communing with her about the issue.

Sometime, I want the trials in my life to be over before God is finished shaping me with them.

I don’t expect that by observing Advent this year, I am going to emerge a radically transformed person. That would be self-defeating and inconsistent with the meaning of the season. Sanctification doesn’t happen overnight; it takes a lifetime.

The kingdom started as a grain of mustard seed and won’t be finished growing for some many generations to come. The dough has to sit on the counter for a while before it rises enough to knead it into bread. Wine has to ferment for months just to be drinkable, and years to reach its peak quality.

What I hope for this Advent season is to learn the meaning of Isaiah 40:31.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:27–31, ESV)

The context is that Israel has become discouraged in her captivity. Isaiah’s message is that God is not finished with her. He has a future for her. Israel will know God’s glory again (Isaiah 40:5), but they need to wait on him with a holy anticipation. Isaiah reminds them that though they are weak, He is strong. He will give them strength if they wait on Him.

This is true of the church while she waited for the first Christmas. It’s true of the church today occupying until Christ’s return. It’s also true for the individual Christian needing strength for his future.

If we learn to wait on the Lord, He will give wings to soar above the fray, endurance to run the race set before us, and the strength to not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.

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About Scott Postma

Scott is a writer and teacher living in North Idaho. He loves teaching the Great Books, writing and blogging, and collecting more books than he’ll ever read in a lifetime. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

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