Waiting for Emily
By Carolyn Brock of Redmond, OR, USA
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God…And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. —Isaiah 35:1–2, 10 NRSV
(This article first appeared in the December 1986 Africa Herald.)
One year ago I was waiting; I was full of energy waiting to break forth, full of life waiting to be born. I was waiting for Emily. I didn’t know at the time, however, that I was waiting for Emily. The baby kicking and hiccupping inside me was an unknown life, a mystery yet to be encountered. And it was perhaps because Emily had not yet been revealed to me that I felt so excited about her coming.
One thing was becoming dramatically clear—a monumental change was about to take place. There would be no going back to a pre-Emily state. From now on she would be part of everything I experienced and chose. We were committed to share life together and be bound to each other forever. This was a rather terrifying thought at times when I realized the quality of life I would like to offer my child, the quality of person I would like to be for her so she could grow up whole and holy. Was I really ready to be a mother? Was I ready to be the grace and love of God to a child given me by the divine Parent? Waiting, I asked myself these questions and tried to prepare my heart.
Is it not just this way with the coming of Jesus? So often we feel we are waiting for him to become more real in our lives. We long to see and touch him in more tangible ways. We long to feel him growing and living inside our very beings. We long to give birth to him so his goodness can be visible to our eyes. And yet when we realize the holiness demanded of us as bearers and birthers of the Son of God, we suddenly meet our total unworthiness and unpreparedness.
Babies don’t wait for parents to become perfect before entering their lives. And Jesus doesn’t wait for us to become perfect before he asks to be carried by us into the dark places of our world. In moments when we feel most unready and most unworthy he enters our hearts, surprises us with his energizing presence, humbles us with the beauty of his love, and transforms our selfishness into service through a gracious vision of those who need his care.
There is really no going back to a pre-Jesus state once we have felt his life pulsing within us. There is no disconnecting the cord of commitment without forsaking the persons we had hoped to become through the flowering of his love in our souls. We are forever bound to him once we have invited him to take up residence in our hearts. He keeps living in us, growing, moving, revolutionizing the very fiber of our beings.
This is what we open ourselves to each Advent season. This is the time of waiting, the time of preparing, the time of expectancy. Into our imperfect hearts Jesus enters, bringing newness of life, freshness of hope. Let us wait for the miracle of his coming with joy!
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?