When I was a child, my mother came up with a simple but creative way to help me count down the days to Christmas. She strung a long piece of ribbon across the fireplace within my reach and taped Hershey Kisses to the ribbon, one for each day through December 25. My excitement built each day as those shiny, red-and-green foil wrappers filled with chocolatey sweetness dwindled in number. To this day, I’ve continued the tradition, and a Hershey Kiss will always taste like Christmas to me, any time of year.
Those little Hershey Kisses were a shadow of a deeper truth. The Advent season is a time of waiting expectantly. Through all of history since the Fall, God’s people have waited for deliverance. God had promised a Redeemer since our first parents disobeyed. The prophets foretold his coming for centuries, and while those ancient promises echoed through four hundred years of prophetic silence and foreign oppression, God’s people still waited.
The silence was broken by a baby’s cry in a tiny, nondescript town in the Roman Empire. On the surface, it was ordinary. This was what they had been waiting for? Isn’t that often our response after a long period of waiting for something? When we forget God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, and love, his answer can seem disappointing because it’s not what we expected. Sometimes we even miss it or, worse, despise and discard it. After long periods of unfulfilled desire, prayer, and anticipation, we miss the glory, grace, and goodness of God’s redemptive work because it comes in unexpected packaging.
Advent teaches us to expect great things of our great God. We go about our daily routines in an atmosphere of eager anticipation for the joys of Christmas Day, and that should reflect a deeper anticipation as we look for God’s redemptive purposes in the common and unexpected events he providentially sews into our lives because we know they are part of a greater story.
Two thousand years on, the church still waits for another promise to be fulfilled, but this time the glory will be obvious. We have small tastes of it here, like those foil-wrapped chocolates, in the channels of grace he has given us in his Word, his Spirit, and his church. Although we can’t count down the days, that promise, the sure hope of his return, reminds us that when God seems silent and distant, his plan has not failed.
About the Author –
Bethany Wester a life-long Floridian who enjoys deep conversation, good books, classic movies, traveling, and Florida State football. She is passionate about Jesus, learning the truth of God’s word beside other women, and caring for women and families involved in unplanned pregnancies. Today is her parents’ 46th wedding anniversary, and she’s indescribably thankful for them.