Advent is a time of waiting. Children (and plenty of adults) are eagerly waiting to open their gifts, while others can’t wait to see their look of surprise and delight. We may be anticipating the arrival of family members who live far away, or we may be the ones traveling to see them. If we’re frazzled by all the holiday bustle, we may simply be waiting for January!
In the church, advent is a time of waiting for Jesus. Yes, He is already here. But each year we anticipate His birth anew, and the difference His presence makes in the world.
I admit that I’m not good at celebrating advent. I’m usually focused on getting just the right gift for each person on our list, juggling invitations, and the myriad of other special tasks and activities we try to cram into the holidays. But this year, God decided to give me a lesson in waiting. I don’t like it, at least not at the moment. But I trust that God is good, has my best interests at heart. I’m sure I’ll look back and thank Him for how it all works out—and especially for how I’ve grown closer to Him.
It started with a routine medical test, the kind you do every year or so because they say to. No big deal. But this time, instead of an “everything’s fine” postcard, I got a call. “We’d like to see you again.” Well, that happens, so I made an appointment to return for a re-do. Since it was the week before Thanksgiving, their schedule was full, and I had to wait an entire week.
Finally the day arrived. I walked in fully expecting to get an “all clear” and be done with it. But no, it seems that the tests were ambiguous, and while “it’s probably nothing,” they needed to schedule a more invasive procedure to make sure. Lovely. At least that time I only had to wait two days, but it seemed like an eternity.
The medical staff (and assorted close friends) all assured me that this procedure wouldn’t hurt. It definitely isn’t supposed to. But it did. Even with a double dose, the lidocaine never did make anything numb, and everything was very painful. Badly shaken, I went home to wait for the phone call.
I waited five days. Again, I assumed everything would be fine and I’d be done.
Then I got the call from my doctor’s office. “We have your results, and we’d like to see you. Today.”
It was mid-morning and my appointment was the last one of the day. Did you know that six hours can seem longer than two weeks? I spent a lot of that time talking to God, making sure He knew I was anxious, and that I knew I was trusting Him. All I could imagine was that I’d be getting bad news. After all, if it was good news, wouldn’t they have just told me over the phone?
Even when we arrived for my appointment (Pete came too), we had to wait almost an hour. The doctor was running late. Finally she walked into the room, introduced herself to Pete, took a deep breath, and announced, “Your test results were inconclusive.”
Aaauuuggghhh! All that pain. All that waiting. And they still don’t know if I’m fine or not?
I’ve now been referred to a surgeon. After reviewing all my results, medical opinion is that it’s probably significant, and needs to be pursued. Now I’m waiting for the referral, the appointment, the scheduling of the actual (probably outpatient) surgery…
And, yes, it’s Christmas time. We’d wait until January, except we’ve had a lot of medical expenses this year and we’ve passed our out-of-pocket limit on our insurance. Any new costs between now and the end of the year are fully covered. That saves us thousands of dollars. Besides, I hate not knowing. I want this resolved as soon as possible. Truthfully, what I really want is a modicum of control in an unnerving situation. Yet, God is in control. My job is to simply wait.
This isn’t how I’d intended to spend Christmas (or my birthday, which is also in December). Apparently God has His own plan. In the meantime, my sky-high blood pressure is slowing returning to its healthy normal. The tension is leaving my shoulders. And I realized that, even if my body is still reacting to the adrenaline my subconscious is pouring into my system, emotionally I’m at peace. God is here. I’m grateful that I live now, in the 2016th year of our Lord, when we can have the Holy Spirit actually living inside us! I understand a bit better why Israel so longed for the advent of their Messiah.
With God holding me close, I may be getting the hang of this waiting business.