WAIT! ... So, how did you do? Generally speaking, our society performs poorly when it comes to waiting. During the summers of my college days, most of the correspondence with my girlfriend (the lady I eventually married!) was by written letter; addressed, stamped, and mailed via USPS. By the time it reached her two or three days later, any news it contained was past news!
The amazing development of electronic mail made it possible to for people communicate more quickly. Then along came cellphones and text messaging, and email became the new snail mail! If we do not receive a response to our text within a couple of minutes, we become antsy. We do not like to wait!
Nevertheless, we are forced do it several times everyday. Shopping lines, traffic lights, health facilities, restaurants, medical test results, television commercials that interrupt our favorite shows ... as much time as we spend waiting, one would think we might be better at it than we are.
In fact, it has been estimated that the average person spends seven years of life waiting! Can you imagine that? So, what do you do while you wait?
Many people go to their trusty, handy cellphone. In a doctor's office waiting room this morning I noticed that more than one half of those waiting for their name to be called were using their electronic devices. Were they playing games, sending messages, or maybe searching the internet?
I often take something with me to read, but today I decided to leaf through a magazine that was provided by the doctor's office. I have never really looked closely at a People's Magazine, so this was an opportunity to do so. After several pages I realized that I was already familiar with most of the information I was seeing. I glanced back at the cover and saw the date: December 4, 2007!
And most of us have waited patiently (or not!) at a green traffic light for the person in front of us to look up and see that the red light had changed. It causes me to wonder if the field of chiropractics will become much more lucrative and in demand in the near future because of how much time we spend looking down or hunched over peering into that small handheld screen.
The Christmas season -- Advent -- is a time of anticipation, of expectant waiting for the coming of Christ. It is a time to prepare for the spiritual side of the vastly celebrated holiday. It is a time that we seek to draw closer to Jesus and invite Him to draw nearer to us.
At the birth of Jesus that first Christmas, the religious world had been waiting for 800 years from the time it was prophesied that Messiah would come. We can understand, then, why Magi would travel nearly 1,000 miles to worship the newborn King, shepherds would leave their posts, and angels would joyfully declare, "Glory to God in the highest ... peace to all people." The waiting was over.
God still comes to His creation. No, not as a baby; but He chooses to be involved in the lives of humankind. Those who seek Him find that He comes every day to make Himself known, to extend His mercy and grace, and to express His love.
This is Advent. What will you do while you wait? Certainly you will do some shopping and gift wrapping and eating -- but will you take time to truly seek the God of our salvation? Will you endeavor to make room for Him in the busyness of the season? Will you notice it when He comes to you?
Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.