Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Waiting, Dec 4
The receiving and giving of gifts is inextricably linked to the Christmas season, and Advent is a time of learning to wait for the good gifts of Christmas. Children often make the season about getting and having as they impatiently obsess about what gifts they will receive and how soon they can be opened. The mature, however, understand that gifts are always about relationship, trusting in the nature and timing of the gifts to be received.
The discipline of waiting prepares our hearts to receive the good gifts that God gives us. When we are impatient, we are looking at life and God on our own terms … seeking to meet our needs according to our definitions and our timing. Waiting slows us down and humbles us, reminding us that the true gift is the giver Himself … One who loves us deeply. When our focus becomes the giver, we are able to receive His provision not as a deserved right but as a gracious gift that perfectly suits us.
When we are suffering or in need, we often clamor and complain but God’s counsel is that we become “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19) Why?
Because “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) He always gives and provides exactly what we need and frequently there is a waiting period. Waiting creates a humility in our hearts that gives us fresh eyes to see His gifts that have often been present all along.
We think we want miracles and change and action but what we desire in the depths of our hearts is Him. He will let us wait so that we have the best opportunity to see and appreciate Him as our gift. One of the challenges in our world today is that we don’t have to wait. We can use a credit card to buy our way out of a tough situation. We can get a new job and move on to escape suffering. We can jump on a plane and be on the beach in an hour. The list could go on, but the reality is all too often we simply don’t wait for the good gifts that He brings.
Again, what are His gifts? In Luke 11:1-13, Jesus asks several questions to lead us into understanding how He works:
“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
We seek and ask for specific kind of provision and He not only gives but gives better than we even know how to ask. And, again, the gift is His presence in the Holy Spirit. In Psalm 40, David cries out: “I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry.” David waited and realized that the Lord “inclined and heard” … He was present.
Do you trust that His presence is the gift above all gifts? Better than life itself? Waiting only makes sense in light of this reality, and learning to wait opens our heart to this gift above all gifts. And, the beauty is that we experience this gift in our waiting and then are able to receive anything else as a function of relationship, not rights. Our expectations change. Our prayers change. We change …
John Ortberg comments that:
“What always drives us, at the soul level, is that if I believe I cannot trust God for the satisfaction of my soul, then I will take my soul’s satisfaction into my own hands. I may not acknowledge that even to myself.”
Today, look for the gift of His presence in your life. Set an alarm on your phone or watch or computer for several times throughout the day. When the alarm goes off, stop and ask: “how am I seeing the gift of His presence today?” Ponder, acknowledge, thank Him, and then pray the following:
Gracious Father, humble my heart as I wait on you. Give me the strength to stop and wait so that you can be the One who saves me. Give me eyes to see my nakedness today but then to trust that You alone can clothe me. Use your Word, the world around me, and the words of others that I might see You alone as my savior all the day long. Amen.