Worth the Wait!
By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of San Anselmo, CA, USA
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God…May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. —Romans 15: 5–7, 13 NRSV
The immediate has become a driving value in many cultures. If I want food faster, I put it in the microwave. If I want that new iPhone but don’t have the money, I charge it to a credit card. The goal is maximum efficiency with minimal inconvenience. The underlying message we are receiving is this: If you can’t have it now, it might not be worth having. I wonder how this relates to the growing resistance to the life of faith in these same cultures.
I would be lying if I said I don’t indulge in immediate gratification. And it’s not all doom and gloom. Some expediency is literally life-saving. For these advancements I am grateful. But this value can also dehumanize. As a society we tend to cast aside those who can’t keep up. Our incessant need for convenience often comes at a cost to the planet and to the people employed to satisfy our endless wants.
How does this immediacy value impact us as persons of faith? We are invited during this waiting season to slow down enough to examine every part of our lives in God. When I recall times of impatient waiting, I notice that my first response is usually to search for distraction. If I am waiting in line, I take out my phone and scan through e-mails or social media. I busy myself with other things to make the time go faster, to avoid the reality I’m in.
What am I missing while occupying myself with other things? Am I closing off the invitation of the Spirit to enter into life-giving conversation with a stranger? Am I ignoring ordinary life that is brimming with holy significance? Am I missing a chance to catch my breath and clear my mind? Is a great insight or question emerging from my depths, yet never given time to surface in the silence? Is my evasion of what is before me revealing a deeper evasion of what is within me?
Advent is a waiting season. It calls for our full attention, and births anticipation. The anticipation is holy, even if it produces discomfort or impatience. Don’t busy yourself with other things to distract from the restless hope arising within. Stay in it. Notice what it forms within you. It’s worth the wait!
Advent Prayer Phrase
Anticipation deepens within.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Spend a few moments dwelling in God’s presence. Pay attention to where your heart feels drawn into prayer. What words, images, or themes in this story lead you to reflect on your own faith journey? What is God’s invitation to you this day?