Advent 1: What if Longing is Good?

Advent. It's here. To some that mean a lot; to others, not so much. In many churches it is a time when we prepare our hearts for Christmas. We recognize the waiting that happened before the Savior came.

At it's heart, Advent is about waiting, and waiting produces longing. Pastor Jan Bros shared at church tonight that in longing we become present with that which is unfinished yet in ourselves and in the world. That celebrating Advent is only possible for those who are aware of their brokenness. That since God is already aware of the longing in our heart, we are able to enter into the darkness of longing and know He is present.

I often run from longing. Longing for something produces discomfort. It often comes with ache. And I know that the things I long for aren't going to happen in the immediate future (at least not in their fullness): being on a vocational path, having obedient children, being a good father, being a good husband, having a good marriage, having brokenness healed, being whole, the fulfillment of hopes and dreams. Some of these will come over time...others will be along wait. But when those places of longing are accompanied with waiting (which is most of the time), I tend to repress my acknowledgment of the longing I have.

But what if God were present in the longing? Would I be able to face it? Because, of course, He is present there. Pastor Jan noted that in being present to our longing, our hearts become a manger of prayer. We make a place for God to dwell, and we turn to Him for the fulfillment of our longing aches. Indeed, the ache becomes a place of contact with God.

Part of Advent is acknowledging the longing of waiting for Christ to return. I wonder if I don't long deep enough for His return because I am too comfortable in this world (though it's not true comfort--there's plenty of needless pain and hurt--but more familiarity that comfortableness). I think that one of the things longing does--longing for justice, longing for restoration, longing for peace--is that it keeps me focused on Christ and being ready for His return.

So I'm going to give longing a try this week. I'm going to try to acknowledge the aches rather than ignore them. I'm going to try to acknowledge God's presence as a light in the darkness and talk with Him about those places of longing.

Somehow, even in the midst of the scariness of doing that, I think it'll be a much better start to the Advent season than making lists of wants,  spending time shopping, or rushing to and from events.

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