Advent 2020 Devotion

A Season of Waiting

What does this season of advent mean for you? Advent is a season of hope, of expectancy, of preparation. As Christians, we are looking forward to celebrating the incarnation, the first coming of Jesus, but of course, we also are looking ahead to something that is not fully here yet – the Second coming of our Lord.

Now is a season of waiting – to gather face-to-face again, to continue our life and ministry as usual. Waiting is not easy. Patience is needed to embrace and live out our counter-cultural Christian mission. Patience is costly; it stretches our faith. As we walk this advent journey of waiting, hoping, praying, persevering, none of us can make it without the unconditional extravagant love of Jesus. He is endlessly patient even when we are not.

The pandemic might feel like a long season of waiting for you, but God is still in control. In a world of instant answers (Siri, Alexa), we want immediate responses, but that leaves little room for faith and trust. Maybe you have faced discouragement? I have often wished God would move faster in answering my longing and my dream to see

  • Church in Bulgaria grown to the point of reproducing itself in other unreached people groups
  • World Christians who live a life on mission with God – people who are blessed to be a blessing to others
  • Movement of the Word – pastors, preaching the Word of God with the heart of God

I have learned, and I am still learning, to hold on to God’s promise, to wait with patience, to stay expectant, and be encouraged by every sign of response. How can I learn to be patient and not lose hope? I encourage you to hold on to what you are hoping for – in your ministry, nation, church, life, and calling as a follower of Jesus. Practicing patience does not necessarily mean waiting a lifetime but being patient enough to await God’s timing.

Rewarded with More Than We Can Imagine

It took over 400 years of patiently waiting for Emmanuel’s coming to break into history – many of the Israelites did not give up on God’s promise. There are two main characters in the Christmas story, which I believe have relevance to waiting to see the fulfillment of God’s vision for our life. Firstly, Zechariah (and Elizabeth) understood what it felt like to wait. They wanted a child, faithfully served, and faithfully prayed in anticipation. After waiting in hope, a messenger from God visited Zacharia. He came with an astonishing message: “Your long wait is over. Your hope is fulfilled”. They received far more than they could have imagined. They were looking for a baby, and they got a prophet. Well, yes, it was a baby, but there was something extraordinary about him. As you’ve faithfully served God in this challenging year of restrictions and loss, maybe God will surprise you with more than you can imagine. That is the insight from Zacharia I want to impart in you – fresh hope for what you have been waiting for and hope that God may far exceed your expectations.

Ability to See What God is Up to Even When There’s Almost Nothing There to See Yet

And Simeon. He only appears briefly in Luke 2 but leaves such a big impression! A man with a deep relationship with God. I imagine Simeon as a sagacious older adult that people loved to be around because he carried such a presence of deep peace and enormous hope.

Simeon has been eagerly waiting for the Messiah. Led by the Spirit, he enters the Temple – and what does he see? А child. Not a King, worrier, not a prophet, not a miracle worker, not a rabbi, or any of the other Jewish expectations. Yet Simeon lifts this child in his arms and declares, “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for!!”

What I love about Simeon is that he can see what God is up to (to see where God is at work) even when there’s almost nothing there to see yet. He only needs to catch the tiniest glimpse to be satisfied. Are you and I like that? Maybe we want to see the whole climax of God’s work, not the build-up? Perhaps we struggle to notice the small incremental steps of movement in a person’s life. We want to see the fulfillment, the completion of our vision, but there are steps toward that. Simeon’s faith is so strong, and he is so sensitive to the Spirit, that he got deep satisfaction from a small glimpse of God because Simeon trusts that what God starts, he will see through to completion.

How About You?

How does that relate to you? Are you prepared to wait patiently in the knowledge that God will do what He has said He’ll do?

I invite you to spend time with God, reflecting on this year. What has encouraged you? What has not happened that you hoped would? Ask the Spirit to show you what he is up to, where He is at work. Celebrate the glimpses of a tiny breakthrough. Pray for the humility to not have to see the climax of God’s work to celebrate the flickers of hope now. Hold onto your dreams and trust God’s promise and timing through this Christmas season and into the year ahead.

I hope that all this resonates with you. I pray that you can be like Zacharia – remain faithful to what God has put in your hand and do not let go of the promise and hope. Be like Simeon – so secure, so understanding of God’s bigger plans and purpose and the end of the story that you can celebrate the little flickers, the glimmers of hope in a way that keeps your hope stirred up and gives you the courage and the grace to wait patiently for God’s timing. I pray that God may give you eyes to see where God is working and the strength to hold on to your dreams, confident that he will fulfill them in His timing.

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