|The first Advent Bush marks the time.|
We begin again. Advent, the Coming, settles on the Church like a favorite blanket clutched against the cold. Admit it; while the tree lot out front is welcome, and you are excited to be decorating and gathering gifts, the harsh hawking of “The Holidays” with its inescapable, endlessly looping soundtrack of chestnuts, sleighs, and snowmen sung in every possible style is already too much to bear. Advent is our safe place.
Advent is how we begin. We are waiting, looking forward, and preparing for something, some One Whom we know is coming. Waiting is hard, but helped by confidence in His coming, waiting gives us time to prepare. Time is the one thing everybody needs, especially this month; Advent gives us time.
How,you ask, can anybody, anything give us time? Time is non-negotiable; that which, like the tide, waits for no man. That is true, but obtaining time is simpler (not easier, but simpler) than those harried, hurried shoppers realize as they rush to grab the last parking spot: give it to God.
Give God your time in worship, and you will find time in your life where you thought you had none, like a fat wad of bills in the pocket of the winter coat you last wore in March. Throw down before the Lord an hour here, an hour there, and suddenly eternity opens before you like a vista from a roadside stop. The vastness and beauty of God’s glorious working is exposed before your eyes where previously you saw only brake lights and bumpers.
Give God your time in worship and he will give you thirty, sixty, a hundredfold in return, good measure, flowing over into your life. Time, which you cannot buy or bargain or store, comes to you as your servant and your friend. Each day brings moments like treasures, and the weeks that were too few become suddenly an abundance.
Give God your time in worship and you will have found the perfect gift, given what nobody before has ever given nor will ever again give, given what is more precious to Him Who receives it than it is even to you who give it, because your minutes and your hours have never been lived before nor will anyone ever after have anything like them to offer. Imagine, hearing the Lord God Creator of the Universe say to you, nobody ever gave me that before! You will be a gift-giving genius who has spent not one penny.
Advent gives us time because instead of trying to box it or bag it or pour it into a glass, worship puts our time where it belongs. In this demanding season when people feel free to tell you what to do, they will blithely insist that this is the time for friends; this is the time for family. But our Lord Who craves our time outranks friends, edges out even family. It is okay to make them wait while you’re with Him; you give them the opportunity to join you in fruitful waiting. But it’s not an either-or; our God offers us His friendship, and has made us His family. Bring them along when you come to Him, and never fail to bring Him when you’re with them. Then you will have more, better time with them, too.
This Divine economy is mysterious, but it is not magic, it is no myth. Pray more, worship longer, and time will be yours in abundance. The Eternal God spills his extra into the tiny cup of our time-short lives every time we pause before Him. His News is good: I am coming! His command is simple (not easy, but simple):wait for Me. We must wait for the Lord, before the Lord. Advent is how we begin. Again.