Y'all know I dabble at running. More for my health than any aspirations of winning an event. I've run 5z, 10k, half marathons and competed in Tough Mudders. We always think about 'the wait' for a few days leading up to the actual event. Even though I have zero chance of winning, there is still a giddiness, nervousness, and harnessed excitement that throttles around in my belly and chest. Waiting is the hardest part.
A couple years ago, a running friend suggested we run the Rock N Roll half marathon in Washington DC. As my friend and daughter talked me into this run, I began to feel 'the waiting' take over my body. Did you know, daughters can be some of the biggest reasons fathers end up in the hospital. Just kidding. The day before the race, we went to The Armory to register and the throngs of people there simply elevated the anxiousness. I felt like a race horse waiting in the chute at Churchill Downs.
The day of the race was cool, we rode the train into center city and worked our way to the starting line. Rows of portable toilets awaited us as adrenaline began to rise. Yes, the waiting lines were extremely long. It's one thing to run a 5K (3.1 miles) with 50-60 people but something else to be mixed with 25, 000 other runners. We were sequestered in groups according to our minutes per mile run times. I was in paddock 23 (I think). It was at least 30 minutes after the actual start that we in paddock 23 could begin the race. There were 22 waves of people ahead of us; each starting a minute or so apart from the next. Waiting was the hardest part of the 13.1 mile run.
The season of Advent is all about waiting. The journey toward the birth of Christ is one of patience, learning, understanding, and receiving the baby come to save the world from sin. Then I need to stop and consider the nation of Israel and how long they waited for the event to happen in real time. For hundreds of years the prophets foretold the coming of Messiah. Waiting was a double edged sword.
Waiting can heighten the actual event and the light gets brighter or it can demoralize those who have to wait and darkness gets....well, darker! In the case of Christ, Israel wandered away from the promise and and in some ways lost hope. Waiting is the hardest part.
How about you, when you wait for something big to occur, do you sense an increasing excitement or do you sink deeper into despair? Waiting for an event tends to lead us down roads we never intended to travel. This can be both good and bad. Good in that God needs us to trust more and follow where he leads. Bad in that we trust less because of the wait and travel farther away from where God needs us to be.
Today is the day before the day. It is the eve of our Savior's birth. In real time, the land of Israel was still living in darkness and waiting. Soon, they would be introduced to the great light that came into the world to defeat the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:2). In our time we set waiting aside, it is time to embrace the Light of the world and trust that He is the one sent to save us and nothing will change that truth.
Merry Christmas and a Holy and Happy New Year to all.