Yesterday was the first day of Advent, a season of anticipation that culminates with the birth (advent) of Christ. Waiting is something I'm familar with. First, I'm often thinking about the future (which is always not now!), and second, because I feel like I've spent the last few years waiting for some major change in my life. Third, I've thoroughly bought the idea that delayed gratification is a good thing. (Although maybe that's my just my inability to make decisions and not really a virtue!)

As Christians, we're taught to be waiting expectantly for a time when all will be put to rights (an N.T.Wright phrase). A time when all that is promised will come true: the lion will lay down with the lamb, friends and family will be reunited, tears will be wiped away, all will be healed, and we will live in the delight of God's presence. This is the advent season we are truly inhabit - the waiting for not the first, but the second coming of Christ.

But I've noticed that setting my hope into the future good that is coming can often keep me from the joy of the moment. It keeps me from being present to what is going around me now. It's like I'm holding my breath, and my body is starting to become oxygen deprived. Or, having taken an "I'm just holding on" stance, my fingers are starting to numb and my toes are beginning to tingle. Several years ago I realized I had better start enjoying living on the cliff, or I was going to become miserable, and maybe even run the risk of falling off. It was time to set camp on a large ledge and start enjoying the view, learning the names of the birds circling me, and appreciate the type of rock face I was scaling.

This blend of enjoying the present while desiring the future is something I think is important. Maybe it's like a kid who anticipates the delight of Christmas morning, while still continuing to play with last year's presents, while appreciating and cultivating the relationship between herself and the parents and grandparents who were the givers of those gifts. Right now, we have all we need to be joyful. (see 2 Peter 1:3) And the goodness and glory of our God guarantees that our joy will only increase as we practice His presence and live out of His promises.

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