by Steve Wetzel
“Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”
Isaiah 40:3-5 (NLT)
Hurry Up & Wait
Christmas has to be the number one holiday for preparation. There are decorations, parties, choir anthems, feasts, and gatherings of all sorts all leading up to one day. For children, the holiday season is most often about waiting. Waiting for lights to go up on the tree, waiting for school to be done so vacation can start and even waiting for Christmas morning and the frenzy that brings. Ask any child under 5 how long they have to wait for Christmas presents and you will probably hear “FOREVER!” or some such version. Advent is really about waiting, which can seem like an odd thing to celebrate, but in truth it's a celebration of what the Israelite people had gotten quite good at: Waiting on God.
For the people of Israel of Bible times, waiting on God had become a profession. They had been doing it for hundreds of years and it had become very much a part of who they were. They were promised a “messiah” or one who who would come and restore God’s kingdom and restore our broken relationship with God. How would you like to be told that you were going to get the greatest gift the world has ever known, but it wouldn’t happen in your lifetime? That’s exactly what was told to the israelites through the prophet Isaiah.
- What does it mean to wait for something? Go around and each share an example!
- Why is it so hard (in America) to wait for anything exciting?
Sit or Keep Busy?
Ask most adults around the holidays how they are doing and you will most likely get the response “Busy!” It seems that each year we find more and more to do and rarely have time to think about why we are doing it. The words in Isaiah speak about waiting, but it isn’t a static sitting on your hands kind of waiting; it’s more about preparing...for the work of God. The Biblical waiting was the idea of active participation in making it happen. Make straight the roads and fill in the potholes! Make it easy for the kingdom of God to come!
This Advent season it can be easy for us to fall into the normal pattern and fill our calendars with the busy work of the holidays but how much of it is clearing the way for the work of God’s kingdom? In all of our holiday preparations, have we made it easier for the glory of God to be seen in our lives or in our communities?
- What is one way you can make it easier for people to see the good new that God brings?
- Take a post-it note and have each member of your family write down something that you are excitedly waiting for this Christmas. Find a spot to stick those note that you will see each morning. Maybe it’s a special gift, or time with friends or family. End with a time praying together that God will give you patience to wait and to remember that in our waiting, we are to prepare for the glorious things God will do in our lives.