We are day 8 into Advent, a four-week period in the church calendar, leading up to Christmas. It’s a time of waiting and reflective preparation for the hope-filled arrival of Jesus as a baby born in Bethlehem and his glorious return as King to rectify and to make all things new (Rev 21:1-5). And fundamental to the apostle John’s vision of the new creation is God’s enduring presence with His people.

The waiting is anticipatory. The word ‘hope’ used in the New Testament means expectation, trust and confidence. In other words, it is not wishful thinking but an expectation and confidence rooted in the absolute trustworthiness of God and His promises. We live with one eye fixed on what God has said He has done and the other on what God has said He will do.

Paul reminds us of this when he urged Titus in his discipling of others that the Christian life is to be lived honorably for God , ‘while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:13-14).

Furthermore, this waiting isn’t passive. We are not spectators in life, in cruise and/or helpless mode. We have to intentionally make room in our hearts to welcome and be attentive to God when he wants to speak to us or direct us. 

Remember how there was no room at the inn for Joseph, Mary and Jesus because it was too full? I wonder if one of the reasons why we receive little to nothing from our spiritual disciplines or holy habits, as Sue McP would refer to them, because we are often living ‘on the run’, going from one thing to another, constantly pushing ourselves to get things done and just trying to get through.

Life can get like this but when it is the order of the day, it is exhausting and unsustainable, not to mention the fact that you’ll end up rushing past the things that matter most.

Perhaps during this Advent, try slowing down and  identify some things you can let go of in order to make room in your hearts so you can be fully present to the Lord Jesus. Things don’t have to stay as they have been. Ann Voskamp reminds us, “God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need, God gives God. God gives God, and we only need to slow long enough to unwrap the greatest Gift with our time; time in His Word, time in His presence, time at His feet”.