This month, I am reading “Good News of Great Joy,” an Advent devotional by John Piper. Today, I reread yesterday’s devotional and began to understand the meaning of a sentence I underlined:
“Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight. It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior.”
To fully appreciate and anticipate Christmas, I must acknowledge that I have a void in my life that can only be fulfilled by Christ. To fill this void I must pursue Christ and be desperate to see him and to hear him. I must seek his goodness and his deliverance. I must pray for miracles, for divine encounters, and for signs and wonders that reveal who he is. I must place my hope in the manifestation of Christ that will begin to restore and renew all things, and hold fast to the knowledge that he is good, faithful, and honest.
The anticipation of Christmas really represents two types of anticipation: one that is seasonal and one that lasts a lifetime. The Lord’s son has already come to earth as a man, and at Christmas, we celebrate Christ’s birth and the hope that he has already established in the world. But when Christmas traditions end for the year, we still anticipate Christ and continue to pursue him with desperation because even though he has come once, we expect his return. While we await this second coming, we watch for continued restoration and renewal as he completes what he has begun in our lives and in the world.
We all have something we are desperate for the Lord to satisfy or to provide, and these unfulfilled longings make us desperate for him. We wait for spouses, for children, for jobs, for healing from sickness, for deliverance from depression, for the restoration of relationships that died long ago, and for revival in our nation. Often, we are not all waiting for the same thing at the same time. Some of us are already married, but we wait for children we cannot have. Some of us are single and wait for a spouse, but we have a great job and a strong health record that someone else prays fervently for.
It is the waiting for, clinging to, and pursuing of Christ that matter most, not necessarily the thing we wait for. We wait for signs that Christ nears us, like the dawn of a new day, bringing unearthly joy and fulfillment. We wait for him to satisfy our souls. We know he is coming in a matter of time, leaping over the mountains and bounding over the hills (Song of Solomon 2:8). So as we wait, we watch and pray, and choose to celebrate the Advent of Christ until at long last he finally reappears.