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Waiting is never easy. Rarely would we choose to wait in a long line, or for a service to be performed, even for a child to be born—if we didn’t have to. We generally don’t like people who make us wait, or things that “just take too long.” We live in a high speed, fast-food, instant “everything” society. While immediacy brings some great conveniences that I enjoy, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the season of advent for its unique quality of making us wait.

Maybe I’ve been thinking on this more this year because of the children. Experiencing Advent through the eager eyes and hearts of two little ones has been insightful. None of the other holidays have this kind of “build-up” involved. It’s excruciating for them to wait for Christmas as we decorate the house, wrap presents, and talk about what we are celebrating.

But waiting is so good for them, and for me too.

Each night so far as we’ve opened one little door of the Advent calendar we are enjoying with the kids, I’ve felt the spirit of this beautiful waiting. We don’t get it all at one time, just little tastes that keep us longing for what is to come. I’m not sure how I could communicate this truth any better to my children, or even to my own heart. The season of Advent was intentionally designed to reflect the whole truth about Christ’s birth into this world: people were waiting a long time, hungering for more, hoping for something so good they could hardly even imagine it.

I remember several times being grateful for the nine months of pregnancy. I wouldn’t have even known it would take so much time to prepare, inside and out, for the arrival of a little one. I’m pretty sure given a choice I would have opted for a few weeks over nine long months. What a process I would have missed by not waiting.

Not only is this season of advent intentional, it is important, perhaps even more important than the actual day of Christmas, if only because it calls us to wait and in our waiting we yearn for God. We prepare our homes and greater still, our hearts, for Christ to be born yet again.

I can’t imagine a heart that doesn’t need preparation for Christmas. Each of us has areas that could use a little dusting and decorating. Disappointments can take up shelf space where hope used to live, sins might have staked their claim in the corner of a room or two, and all the normal “stuff” of life creates an enormous amount of clutter in our hearts and minds. It takes time to make room for the little one.

He’s not here yet, but he’s coming. Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Such joy and anticipation is built in to this Advent waiting. It is full of the hope of the Good News that will splash across the front pages of History on Christmas morning. So while you wait, string lights on the trees, hang garlands and wreaths, decorate your hearth and your heart!

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