Are you wasting your time or making the wait worthwhile?
by MIKE GLENN
WAITING. We spend a lot of time waiting at Christmas. We wait for family to arrive. Or if we’re the ones everyone else is waiting for, we wait for the weather to break or the traffic to clear so we can get home and join our families. We can’t wait until we wake up on Christmas morning and open our presents, only to have the moment disappear in an explosion of wrapping paper.
And when Christmas is over, we start waiting all over again.
Christmas is about waiting. Throughout the Christmas stories, there were a lot of people waiting. Israel was waiting for the coming of the Anointed One promised so long ago by the Father to the prophets. Simeon and Anna were waiting in the temple complex. Elizabeth and Zachariah were waiting for John’s birth, and Mary and Joseph were on their way to Bethlehem to wait for Jesus’ birth.
The whole world was waiting.
Now, it’s our turn. We’re waiting. Like Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah, Simeon and Anna, and all the prophets before us, we’re waiting for the promise of God to be kept.
And honestly, we’re getting a little tired of waiting. You can’t blame us. Most of us have been disappointed in our waiting. Waiting this year, waiting again this year, just makes it worse. I think when January rolls around, one of the reasons we’ll tend to find the month so difficult isn’t just the long, dark days of winter, but the disappointment of realizing that once more, Christmas has come and gone. We think our lives should be changed.
So we’ll start the new year just as we ended the last one … waiting.
The difference is, year after year, the waiting becomes a little more cynical. So many promises have been made, and so few of them have been kept. We promise every year we won’t get fooled this year, and every year, we end up getting fooled again.
Remember Tickle-Me-Elmo™? Elmo was a stuffed doll based on the Sesame Street® character who would giggle if a child rubbed his mid-section. For some reason, this toy became the must-have toy of the season. When Elmo was sold out in the United States, parents were flying to London to buy the toy to bring home to their children. Of course, it was only a matter of months before Elmo was lost under the bed, stuffed in the back of the closet, and then, like every toy, eventually donated to some charity. It’s not just toys. It’s gadgets and computers, clothes and cars — each one promising to change our lives. Not one of them ever does. You’d think we’d learn.
But can we learn? Can we figure out what we’re doing wrong and why we end up so disappointed every year? I think we can if we’ll learn from those who waited for the first Christmas. Remember, the world had been looking for a Savior for a long time. There were always people here and there, promising to be the one who would save Israel and make everything right in the world. The world was filled with imposters.
But Simeon waited for the Promised One. He prayed and prayed until finally, God promised Simeon he would get to see the Messiah. On the day Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, the Spirit of God confirmed to Simeon this was the Child for whom he had been waiting.
So now, like Simeon, we wait for the promise. But the question is this: Are we waiting the way Simeon waited? Are we waiting in prayer? Are we waiting, refusing to be distracted by the shiny things of the world and determined to wait for the real deal this year?
If what you’re waiting for is worth the wait, then the time isn’t wasted. A couple waits nine months for the birth of their little one. When the child is born, the couple agrees the wait was worth it. A doctor works a long time for her degree, but when she’s finally called “Doctor,” the time was well spent.
So what are you waiting for? Something else the world promises will change your life? Or are you waiting, like Simeon, for the real thing?
Remember, if what you’re waiting for is worth it, the time isn’t wasted.
Only Jesus is worth the wait.
MIKE GLENN is the senior pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. Under his leadership since 1991, the church has grown to six campuses with a membership of more than 10,000. Glenn graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is married to Jeannie. They have twin sons, Chris and Craig, and two granddaughters, Mackenzie and Rowen.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living magazine (December 2017). For more articles like this, subscribe to Mature Living.