One of my favorite Christmas decorations is the Advent Calendar. Growing up, our family had one shaped like a chimney with a Santa on top. Each “brick” had candy in it and my brothers and I would rush home from school and wait for my mom to give the green light. Advent, from the Latin word adventus, means “coming” and it refers to a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the birth of Christ. I guess those tiny chocolates were meant to help us wait out the time before the big day.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about waiting. Most of us are waiting for something: a vacation, a baby, a test result, a job, a relationship, recovery, forgiveness. It’s hard to wait. It’s even harder wait expectantly and prepare for something you’ve never seen work out. As grown-ups, there is no countdown. No guaranteed outcome. No candy to help along the way. There’s just waiting.
My wise and thoughtful friend Crissy and I met up for coffee a few weeks ago and we talked about this waiting business. We both agreed it can be painful, annoying, and frustrating at times. (Ok, mostly I was saying that. She’s a better person in general) Crissy, knows a bit about waiting, specifically waiting to meet the right person.
She told me that when she turned 35, she started looking at waiting differently when she noticed that waiting is, and always has been, a part of God’s people. It’s who we are. We have always been waiting for something: delivery from Egypt, the Promised Land, the Messiah, the return of Christ. Crissy said she believed God was actually interested in making her good at waiting. That realization helped her learn how to wait with hope, expectant of God’s goodness in her life.
I admitted to her that sometimes I hate hope. Hope gets your hopes up. When it doesn’t work out, you have a fall that you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t hoped in the first place. Maybe it’s better to just take what comes? Crissy just smiled and said that reminded her of a verse from Zechariah (b/c she is that cool, and can bust out Zechariah. What?!?!) and it says:
“Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will
restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12
I’ve thought a lot about that strange phrase, “Prisoners of hope” since that day. I take it to mean that when we follow Jesus, there comes a point when we can’t get away from hoping in Him. The truth is, even if I wanted to stop hoping, I couldn’t because I know Jesus and I know Him to be terribly good and reliable. It’s too late. I can’t stop hoping. I’ve experienced too much of His kindness to deny that He has my best in mind whether it feels that way or not. Deep down, I expect Him to come through in the way that He sees is right. I’m hope’s prisoner.
Crissy also serves as a living reminder of what it looks like to prepare while waiting. She founded and runs Mika, a non-profit community development organization that identifies and equips leaders already living in low-income neighborhoods to effect the changes their community needs. Through relationships, Mika helps these leaders identify, design, fund and manage the initiatives the residents want to see happen. Mika also has a number of youth programs ranging from access to arts, to surfing, to academic tutoring; all of which gives kids access to healthy role models. If you want more info on volunteering or giving to Mika, click here.
I should also tell you that Crissy didn’t wait to meet someone in vain. I had the honor of attending her wedding to Moses a couple of weeks ago and it was truly a holy and joyful day. It was hands down one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever been to. Complete with a live band and pinatas! More importantly, it was beautiful to watch two people who love the Lord with their lives join each other in bringing healing and restoration to the world.
Whatever you are waiting for this year, I pray you are a fellow prisoner of hope, waiting expectantly on the God who never fails and is always good. There’s no countdown per say, but He’ll show up in the right way at the right time. Remember that waiting is part of who we are and God can use this time to make us better waiters. Lord knows I need the practice….
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24