Anticipating Advent: A Season of Expectation

Advent is a season of expectation.
I know this intellectually, but in the day-to-day busyness of life, it can be far too easy to dwell on immediate and present struggles, and miss out on what should be a time of meditating on the promise of Immanuel–God with us.
Perhaps this is why God has seen fit to fill my life with reminders; gentle invitations to Advent reflection:
Shortly after I finished my student-teaching in December of 2008, God called me to teach in Japan.  It was a sudden, unexpected call, and as I spent the days leading up to Christmas preparing to embark on an adventure half a world away from home and family, I found myself looking ahead to Christmas in a new way, cherishing the comfort of familiar Advent passages.
The next year, December saw me in the thick of my first full year of teaching.  I was overwhelmed, tired, and sick as I boarded the plane from Tokyo to Vancouver, to spend my vacation with my family.  I’d been looking forward to the break–counting down the days, then the hours.  As I looked ahead to my much-awaited Christmas vacation, I leaned again on the truth of the Advent season, the promise of a celebration far greater than a two-week respite from a stressful school-year.
In 2013, I spent most of my December preparing to get married on the 28th.  Accompanying the joy and excitement that I would soon be making a lifelong commitment to my best friend was a feeling of unpreparedness–was I ready to be a husband?  Looking ahead to my wedding, too, drove me to Advent expectation.
This year, as my wife and I celebrate three years of marriage, we look ahead together to the birth of our first child, due in February.  We are filled simultaneously with joy and trepidation as we are transfixed by each new ultrasound, as we feel the kicks and flutters, and make a rudimentary list of what we need to do and acquire before the baby arrives.  Once more, I am comforted by the promise fulfilled in the arrival of another baby, millennia ago.  In Jesus Christ, God entered human existence to dwell with us.
We do not worship a distant God, but one who acquainted Himself with our struggles so that He could die for us.
Such a powerful truth should not need reminders, but sin makes us short-sighted and forgetful.
I am profoundly grateful that even when my attention drifts to the ground beneath my feet–to the aches and pains of the here and now–God patiently, ceaselessly, lifts my chin and fixes my gaze on what lies ahead.
~Nate Gibson, Tokyo, Japan

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