Two weeks until Christmas. These days are torture. It’s a type of no-man’s-land. Christmas Day is close enough to foster frenzied anticipation, yet far enough away to breed frustration. The ‘teens’ of countdown calendars seem to linger like a bad cold. Presents under the tree taunt me. Holiday movies, class parties and endless Pandora Christmas tunes only froth my desires. Oh Christmas – come quickly!
Waiting can be the hardest part (cue the Tom Petty song). Especially when what’s waited for is deeply desired. Remember waiting to get your driver’s license? To graduate? Land that first job? Get married? How about waiting for a child to sleep through the night? Or become toilet-trained?
As I wait for Christmas Day I’ve been pondering the promise of Christmas. A promise first spoken to humanity’s parents – Adam and Eve. A promise given in the midst of failure and disgrace. But in that moment of death came the promise of life. A commitment to rescue and restore. It was a scene both terrible and wonderful. Tragic and hopeful. It was all around incredible as in the mire of despair God promised to fix our mistake.
But not right away.
We had to wait. For thousands of years. Years filled with suffering and confusion. Years of wandering, wondering, fear and pleading. Doubts found energy in the waiting. Was the promise real? Why hadn’t it come yet? And if it was coming, why not now?
Prophets – God’s town criers – rekindled the hope of the promise with encouragement, stern warnings and calls for faithful, patient obedience. Some listened. Some doubted. Some gave up – the waiting was too much.
Then God went silent.
For centuries. I imagine it was a cold, painful, trying silence. With dimmed hopes. Intense longings. And in the most despairing moments, tears of suffering. The waiting was agony. God’s silence, dreadful.
But then God spoke.
His first words were profound proclamations to a pair of unlikely women. An old woman; her younger relative. The seed of promise began to sprout. Humanity’s greatest failure was about to meet its Kinsmen Redeemer. The buds of hope were swelling.
A short time later, the promise blossomed. The void of silent anticipation was filled by angel shouts, shepherd gasps, a mother’s joyous cries and a father’s relieved sigh. The promise was here.
Jonathan Edwards said, “Christ’s incarnation was a greater and more wonderful thing than ever had yet come to pass… It was a great thing for God to make the creature, but not so great as for the Creator himself to become a creature.” An amazing promise kept in a miraculous way. Mankind’s failure became God’s great victory.
The promise of Jesus was long in coming, but worth the wait. And we continue to wait. We long for the day when that child – now King Jesus – will return to the earth He left and consummate His Kingdom. Bring restoration. Healing. Justice and peace. It will be Christmas all the time.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.