I’m probably not the most patient of people. I would much prefer to ‘get on with things’ now. I think I realised this when I was in Primary School. I felt I couldn’t wait several months for Christmas and asked God to send Father Christmas in July!
Just in case you’re wondering what happened I have to tell you that He didn’t. Having said that I don’t think I really believed He would anyway.
And so over the years I’ve had to learn to be patient and come to terms with the fact that God’s timetable is very different to ours. Nothing reminds me more of this than Christmas itself because Jesus was finally born more than 700 years after the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed that the day was coming when a child would be born who would establish a kingdom that would last for ever.
As we enter yet another season of advent, that time of the year when we prepare to celebrate the first ‘coming’ of that king in a manger in Bethlehem, its good to remind ourselves that we can look forward to the day when He will come again, only this time to be acknowledged as the undisputed ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
That is such an encouraging prospect because it reassures us that even though this world is in a right mess, and we are faced with the possibility of catastrophes caused by climate change, rogue asteroids or human barbarity, the day is coming when this world will be as perfect as God always intended it to be. As one of Jesus’ followers once said ‘the old order of things’ will have passed away for good!
We are still waiting for that glorious event of course, and I have no idea how long we will have to wait, but I’m very much aware that this kind of hope can have the most incredible impact our lives even now. No one epitomises that better than Joni Eareckson Tada.
Joni is a quadriplegic, but she has an incredible faith, the kind of faith that’s given her the determination to serve God in all sorts of amazing ways and it’s obvious that it is all built on the promise of His second advent. “When the Bible talks about waiting’ she says ‘it means confidently trusting that God knows how much suffering I need and can take. It means looking expectantly toward the time when He will free me from my burden. Due to my condition, you would think I would grow weary, weak and tired of life. But because I know God and confidently look forward to the day when He will give me a new body I am able to mount up on eagles’ wings even now.”
Joni is quoting the prophet Isaiah of course. He famously said “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” So, whether you’re walking, running or really struggling I pray the Advent hope will put a new spring in your step too.
Rob James is a Baptist Pastor, broadcaster and writer based in Pembrokeshire.