“I Can’t Wait”
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I can’t wait. Around this time of the year, you may be hearing a lot of that from children or grandchildren. I can’t wait! As you get a little older, Christmas loses some of its ability to inspire that “can’t wait” feeling. Perhaps by now you’ve realized that Santa Claus doesn’t pay for the Christmas gifts you are going to give. Maybe Christmas time holds memories for you that you’d rather forget. Whatever it might be, sometimes adults also say, “I can’t wait,” as in, “I can’t wait for it to be over.” Advent, like the Christian life, is both: “I can’t wait;” and “I can’t wait for it to be over.”
“I can’t wait for it to be over.” Or, in other words, “Return, O LORD! How long” (Psalm 90:13, ESV)? Advent, like the Christian life, is a time of repentance and prayer that the Holy Spirit will prepare us for the coming of Christ. You know that this life is rarely easy. And following Jesus doesn’t make you immune to hard times and difficulty. Sometimes everything around you conspires against you, filling your eyes and mind with temptation and doubt. You can feel the conflict between your life as a Christian and the world in which you live. Don’t you just want to shout sometimes, “Return, O LORD! How long?” Jesus lived in this same world. When the disciples could not heal an epileptic boy, Jesus says, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you” (Matthew 17:17, ESV)? Repent. Repent of your contribution to this faithless and twisted generation. Repent that you have made life hard for those around you. Repent that you have so often given into temptation. Repent; He is coming again. I don’t know about you, but as I look at my life and the world around me, sometimes I find myself saying, “I can’t wait for it to be over.”
But the Christian also says, eyes shining with excitement like a little child, “I can’t wait.” Or, in other words, “Come [quickly], Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20)! Advent, like the Christian life, is a time of waiting. But though we deserve our Lord’s temporal and eternal punishment, we do not wait with fear and trembling. We do not wait in ignorance of what or who is coming. We wait with hope. We wait with the sure knowledge that, as hard as it is to wait with patience and quiet hope, the day is coming when our Lord will return for His people. The promise was there for the people of Isaiah’s time, and it is here for us: “It shall come to pass in the latter days” (Isaiah 2:2). Yahweh will once again live with His people as their God. And many peoples and nations, a multitude that no one can count, will look with joy to the holy House of God and of the Lamb who was slain. The Word of God will no longer be shrouded in mystery. It will come to us from the mouth of God Himself. He will teach us His ways and we will walk in His paths, as holy and righteous before Him as His own dear Son. As Yahweh said through the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah: “[N]o longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34, ESV). I can’t wait.
This Advent, you may find yourself saying both, “I can’t wait for it to be over,” and “I can’t wait!” “How long?” and “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” Jesus says, “It will come to pass in the latter days…[I] will judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). He says, It will soon be over. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, ESV). He says, Wait patiently. Surely I am coming soon (Revelation 22:20).
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.
–Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 11/30/07