The guru’s leisurely and unhurried lifestyle inspired his disciples. When asked about his cool conduct, he’d say, “I just don’t have the time to hurry.” During these days of Advent — from the Latin adventus, meaning “arrival” — in preparation for Christmas, Christians are exhorted to slow down, be aware, stay awake and wait.
The Advent motif of waiting on God — rendered famous by the last line of Milton’s sonnet on his blindness: “They also serve who only stand and wait” — has myriad meanings in the Bible. On a seemingly passive note, waiting on God requires patience, resignation, submission and acceptance of a less-than-ideal current state. The psalmist writes: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”
Second, waiting can be a test of faith, a trust in God rather than in human means. A biblical proverb reads: “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the Lord, and God will help you.” People in tribulation pray: “O God, be gracious to us, we wait for you. Save us in this time of trouble.”
Third, waiting on God can be pregnant with hope and expectancy. To wait is to anticipate that God will, indeed, act: “It is for you, O Lord, that I wait; it is you, O God, who will answer.” Truly, “God is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks God.”
Finally, waiting can also refer to the end-times pictured as “waiting for a new heaven and a new earth.” Apostle Paul tells his disciples: “While you are waiting for these (final) things, strive to be found by Christ at peace, without sin.”
Midst our frenzied lifestyles, unexpected demonetisations may force us to wait in serpentine queues. But, Adventic waiting is neither for monetary benefits nor for reaping heavenly rewards; it is simply a call to “watch out” and “wait within”.
Ask yourself: what or who am I waiting for? A soon-to-arrive guest, an outing with a loved one, results of a just-concluded exam, a child in the family, relief from pain, promotion in my job, a wedding, a slow yet sure death from a terminal illness, Christmas, the year-end? Each of these “waitings” have an exterior and interior dimension, an active and passive drive. “Watch out” and prepare yourself for each of these according to the best of your ability. Thereafter, “wait within” harbouring hope in eager anticipation.
Advent is a time to slow down and enter into a “silent mode” even when external noises are deafening. “Blessed are all those who wait for God.” Preparing ourselves for Christmas, we’ll realise that it’s worth waiting for God, who, as Tagore wrote, “comes, comes, ever comes.”