Over the next few weeks, a few of us here at A Rocha will be posting a series of short meditations on waiting in God’s creation as we prepare for the celebration of Christmas.
By Robert Campbell
The spring is a long way off from the first week of Advent. Perhaps Advent is more like keeping a winter garden than planting seeds in spring. The garden requires a different kind of work in the winter. In the winter, we do the work of mending and amending.
Many parts of the garden need mending during the winter. There is the one raised bed that is calling out for a complete rehabilitation because the bottom wire has rotted out so as to let the gophers in to snack on your yellow watermelons. The bed catercorner from that one is asking for a new fence board to shore up the sides after a good decade of faithful service to tomato plants, leafy greens, and black-eyed peas. Pathways must be raked and weeded, drip lines fixed or replaced, and trellises stabilized to be ready for spring peas and summer cucumbers. This is a waiting kind of work.
All of the garden wants amending during the winter. The soil looks fine; it has a good tilth and rich organic odor. Yet, we know how hard it has worked for us since the last spring. Nutrients have been spent in production that must be replenished before it can be asked to feed the family for another season. So, we add life to it while it rests. We add the ready pile of compost, itself waiting for a chance to go to work, made up of decomposing green plant-life and food scraps from an earlier garden, a little bit of brown stuff like leaves and a whole lot of happy, hot manure from our own chickens and neighborhood horses. Amended soil is healthy soil, fruitful soil. But amending is a waiting kind of work.
Advent is our beginning and we wait like a winter garden; during Advent we mend and amend, both ourselves and our relationships. But, how is waiting considered a beginning again? It is so because what starts at Advent does not start with us. Our Advent waiting is always waiting “on the Lord,” as the Scriptures say.
The psalmist calls us to wait for the Lord when tempted to despair:
I would have despaired unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
And the Apostle compares eager waiting with a faith in God’s future grace.
If we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Rom. 8:25
The hope of that future grace, that future citizenship in heaven, spurs waiting for a Savior. Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:20
This is all to say: wait for the Lord this Advent! Take up the Word of God and wait for the Lord. Let the Word of God add truth to this moment in which you are waiting. Let that truth become primary and your circumstances become secondary.
Both are true, but waiting on the Lord sets the solid truth of the Word right next to what seems so big, so profound, so overwhelming to you right now.
It is just as true that you will see the goodness of the Lord as it is that you don’t see it now because of your despair. It is just as true that God alone is your salvation as it is that you feel shaken to your core right now by what is beyond your control. It is just as true that your citizenship is in heaven as it is that your citizenship on earth brings with it an uneasy Christian conscience in recent months and years. The Word of God at Advent makes the winter of our lives a time for mending and amending.
For now, we wait and the church of Jesus Christ waits with us. We wait, and the fruit will come later. It will come in a Christmas feast day that overflows from a heart prepared by waiting; it will come in a year shaped by beginning with Advent and in which God is faithfully at work. And it will come in that one day when Jesus, who came at Christmas, comes again to make all things right.
Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. (Psalm 37:14)
Robert Campbell is a member of A Rocha USA’s Board of Directors. He also pastors a faithful and healthy church serving the people and place of Santa Margarita, California. He has earned degrees from Biola University, The Master’s Seminary, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Trinity Western University.