Have you ever driven to the Gold Coast (or basically anywhere in the world where there are more cars than there is room for them) and discovered when you are about half way, the traffic suddenly stops. At first you assume it’s only temporary and you try and think of where the roadworks are. Since I’m an optimist, I usually assume the traffic is stopped just around the next bend. However, when I get to look at my GPS traffic information or Google Maps, I discover the truth. As far as the eye can see, the traffic is stopped. No one is going anywhere.
Now in my experience this usually happens in summer. Nice and hot and the air conditioning is already overloaded and not coping. So how do you feel just sitting there waiting? I just sit there and stew.
We are Not Good At Waiting.
Waiting is not something we are very good at is it? Even at the supermarket I stand there trying to work out which lane is moving the fastest so I can get out of there in a hurry. And when we see a 12 item lane we stand there counting the items in the basket of the people in front of us trying to see if they should be in this lane or not.
This is the fast food generation and waiting is not something we do well.
Some Cant Wait for Christmas.
I’m sure there are probably lots of little people in your family who have recently said “I just can’t wait till Christmas.” Perhaps there are some older people who say “I just can’t wait till Christmas is over!”
We wait for Christmas, we wait for parking spots, we wait in long lines at the post office for stamps, we wait for the tradesman to come and fix our stuff. Wherever we turn we seem to have to wait. We even buy faster and faster computers so we don’t have to wait the two minutes while system loads or the page prints or whatever.
But, if you want some things you simply have to wait! If you want to become prime minister you will have to wait – even though in Australia we are good at sacking them. Even if you manage to get elected you still have to wait until the current PM falls out of favour before you even get a chance.
Everything Worthwhile Requires You To Wait.
The funny thing is, for most things that are worthwhile we have to wait. Almost anything of value requires us to wait. If you want to live in a house without a mortgage, you have to wait. Sure you may buy the right shares today and sell them next week for 1000 times what you bought them for but then again you most probably wont. The best you can hope for is around an 8 – 10 % return. So to get rich that way you usually have to wait.
Of course you may bet on a horse that comes in at 1000 to 1 but most horses don’t even come in at all, let alone pay those odds. Sure you may win Powerball but the truth is, the odds are so stacked against you that realistically you will have to wait a thousand years before you get an even chance.
The Bible Story of Waiting
The Christmas story in the bible contains an obscure story of a man who was waiting. TBS:-
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (Luke 2:25, NIV).
Now Simeon was a good man. The bible describes him as “righteous” which means he was right before God. He was a man who kept all the commandments and he was someone who was an upright citizen.
Tradition says that he was son to Hillel, one of the most celebrated doctors and philosophers who ever appeared in the Jewish nation. Simeon is also supposed to have been the president of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish parliament. But even he had to wait.
The bible continues… 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (Luke 2:26, NIV).
Here was someone in possession of something directly from God. He knew the future in this one respect. He probably didn’t know how it would come about, but when you have a promise from God, it is a certainty. God does not make mistakes. When he says something will happen it is guaranteed to happen.
But Simeon had to wait to discover Gods purpose for him. All he knew was that it would happen. He had no idea when it would happen.
The whole Jewish nation was like that too. They had to wait. They knew for hundreds of years that a Messiah was coming. The book of Isaiah was written about 700BC and contains some very clear prophesies about Jesus birth. They knew from the prophet Micah that he would be from David’s line and that he would be born in Bethlehem. In fact they knew a lot about him. But they had to wait for the right time.
You know the tragedy today is, so many people are unwilling to wait for things. They want a Mcdonalds God who can deliver in less than 60 seconds or give you your money back. They want a God who will do what they want, when they want it. They don’t want a God who controls time and always delivers at exactly the right moment whether we like it or not. They want a God they can control. They want, in fact, to become God just like Adam did in the garden of Eden.
So Simeon waited for God but what kept him going in all that waiting was hope. He knew that God would keep his promise. He knew he would see the Messiah before he died. Sometimes, hope is all we have to hang onto. Hope that God is doing something for our good. Hope that one day soon God will easy our suffering. Hope that what God has promised he will deliver.
Of course when Jesus came he was different to what most people expected but he was what Simeon knew he would be.
Simeon said:- “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32, NIV).
Friends if you are tired of waiting for things to be better? Maybe you should turn your attention to what God has promised. You see the real message of Christmas is that it is a time of hope. Jesus promises us a better future and Jesus came to deliver it.
In many cases when the world is at its blackest, hope is all we have to hang on to. But this is not like the hope that your horse will come in. This is not like the hope that those shares you bought will go up by 1000%. This hope is as sure as Simeon’s. This is a real hope and it is guaranteed by the God of the universe. This is a hope that’s based firmly on Gods promises and it’s a hope that he wrote it in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Friends I don’t know what Christmas means to you. Perhaps it means family, perhaps it’s gifts, or trees, or the stories of Santa. Perhaps for you Christmas is a sad time or somehow it means trouble, but I know that God would want you to understand, Christmas really is about hope. Christmas is about how Jesus came to deliver a better life for us now and in the future and that’s the hope we hang onto. All you need to do is trust Him.