At the cusp of an awaited day, during this season of Advent, we await the coming one. And maybe you are waiting, too, on something — perhaps some news, or something to happen.
I am waiting, too. As much as I would like to know the future and God’s plans for so many things, I do not know. I so often wish I could hear audibly from God or he’d drop some instructions in my lap. As much as I would like a detailed manual of step-by-step plans, and what to do if something goes wrong, or goes awry, as it often does, I do not have any such specific how-to manual. How often I would like the very specific plan, not the ambiguity. And certainly not the desert or the wilderness of the waiting.
In this little blog and in my tiny corner of the world, I am waiting, just as you might be, for something.
At times, it seems I have been waiting for some answers for so long — that I wonder if I missed the answer, or the answer is still not forthcoming, or – what? Perhaps the answer is no, or to wait longer. I am not entirely sure.
If Advent is waiting and Christmas is the arrival of the expectation, what comes next? In our secularized, sanitized versions of Christianity, we have New Years and resolutions or goals right after Christmas. We have a week of holidays. Nothing wrong with that, but it seems like we are missing something. Prayer? Some significant time spent praying, in prayerful introspection, about – everything? Our lives, our culture, our society, our neighborhood, our city, our world? All of it? Some sort of stopping amidst the noise and being quiet?
I think the “world is too much with us”*… yes, even us evangelical Christians. We are just too full of the world. Caught up in the swirling pool of the moment, the urgent… mostly caught up in ourselves and our own little corners.
I think we are all sincerely desiring “the real”, the unwrapping of ourselves, yet all the while we are busying ourselves with “covering up”. We are covering up Christmas… with ornaments, garland, lights, and music — and we can’t see the manger anymore. We “cover up” our true selves with our phones that we must now carry everywhere and check constantly. We “cover up” with our nose in a book, or our face to the ground, or look the other way.
But this does not just happen at Christmas. It happens all year long. We desire authenticity, to know and be known, and yet with all the technological tools to keep us “connected” we could be the loneliest decade ever.
We are only “connected” superficially. We are not really connected at all; in fact, do we need more evidence to see that we might be the most disconnected ever? Our handy little tools have allowed us to disengage from real conversation and engage in somewhat controlled, fabricated, online communication, where we do not show our faces or eyes, and hide our real selves, and type only what we want others to see?
We are not going to make any progress if we do not unwrap and allow some transparency through. I know that is what I really want. I am sure it must be what others seek as well. It sure isn’t easy. It’s risky. It’s vulnerable.
How are we doing on that?
You know, God came like that. Vulnerable and small. Humble. Open. Naked. God ripped the skies, made a star to shine. And then, he ripped up the chasm between heaven and earth when Jesus died.
Jesus came to us, unwrapped. Then God kept unwrapping the way to Himself.
God opened himself, made himself vulnerable, to the point of saying he’d die for us. He said he loved us, then proceeded to die. That is some sort of vulnerability, knowing you will be killed and many will hate you and turn against you, yet saying you love anyway.
Most of us, we cringe and might want to run from that. How many of us would willingly choose that?? But Jesus did.
What else can we choose to be, then, if not unwrapped and authentic, like Jesus? What other sort of response is there? How are we doing on all of this?
Mankind– we, on our own, apart from God– we are a bunch of failures and can’t see straight. I can’t– I won’t — put my hope in failed, fallen man. I’ve seen the result of that, haven’t you? Isn’t the world full of examples of what man is like, apart from God? Heck, even with God, we are still struggling! God says even our best deeds are like dirty rags. Is that who we want to follow and put our hope in? Fellow dirty rags?
In my littler corner here, I am asking myself these questions, too, and waiting on God. I am thankful for this unwrapped gift of Jesus… because without Jesus, I really wouldn’t see much hope. I am thankful that we have hope…
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.~ Romans 15:13
*William Wordsworth, from the poem “The World is Too Much With Us”