This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Matthew French.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”
Wait. Jesus is coming. Wait. But my heart aches with the waiting. Jesus, how long will we wait? How long?
How long? It’s an ancient ache. The rock band U2 has at times closed concerts with the song 40. This song is based on Psalm 40—the band leaves the stage singing and then the crowd lingers still singing, “How long, how long, to sing this song?”
We seem to be wired to wait. I don’t mean to say that we are any good at it, but we all wait. This waiting has a spiritual magnitude to it, which might just be a way of saying that everyone waits and the waiting reaches to the deepest places of who we are. People of faith or not, we wait. And in the waiting we long. And in our longing we find that we wish. We wish we didn’t experience loss or hurt people we care about.
We wish we didn’t live in a world where our actions contribute to others being the “least of these.” We wish with this deep longing that there weren’t such things as cancer, or violence, or war. But we wait, and we long, because these things have too tight a grip on this world for now. We ache in the waiting because, at times, these things seem to have a tighter grip on us than Jesus. How long? How long?
As Christians, at least our faith takes our wishing and transforms it into hope. We know the Master will return and with the embrace of his love will permanently wipe away all that should not be. The bright Morning Star comes, not just to illuminate the darkness, but to leave the darkness behind. And gone with the darkness will be our hoping, and our longing, and our waiting.
Advent reminds us that as Christ followers we wait and that our Jesus is returning. Yet even in this waiting, especially in this waiting, my heart aches. My heart aches for the future beauty that we see in chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation. For a light, being one who must wait in the darkness of this world, that I can’t even fathom. For the presence that we will dwell in and never ache again. Jesus, how long until you pull us from the mud and mire? How long until we find our mouths full of new songs? How long?
“Yes, I am coming soon … Amen, Come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20
Matthew French, M.Div., ‘10, is the senior pastor at Bergen United Methodist Church in Bergen, N.Y.