This year, for the four weeks of Advent, we are doing the #RendTheHeavens devotion (also known as #FuckThisShit, because sometimes polite language doesn’t cut it) at both The Featherblog as well as Psalm 10 Ministries.
Advent is a season of waiting and expectation. But it’s not necessarily a polite waiting. Because we’re not waiting in an easy place. We are conquered people. We have been brutalized and broken and exiled. We’ve been slapped and whipped and beaten, humiliated, made to play and sing and dance, by those who do these things without conscience or pity.
They have very little sympathy or compassion for their own. We can expect next to nothing from them.
But we also speak the truth. We are not mere unfortunates, not simple victims of circumstance. We are here because of our unfaithfulness, because of the unfaithfulness of our ancestors, who themselves enslaved and brutalized, who themselves whipped and beat and took perverse pleasure in the subjugation of those who were other. Who set things into motion we can hardly understand, only barely repent of and cannot even begin to correct or repair. We are here because we, as a people, have followed gods that could not redeem or save us. We have sought protection in physical power, in wealth, in ideas, in comfort, ease, and good order. In anything but the God who delivered us from Egypt.
We bear our sin. We bear the consequences of sins that are not ours.
So we wait. For deliverance. For vengeance. Because when God acts — against Pharaoh, again the Philistines, against Babylon — vengeance and deliverance are the same things. We have been promised. We have tasted and seen that God is great. Our ancestors, faithless as they were, also walked dry shod across the sea, over the river, and back to homes after a long exile. They beheld an empty tomb. And believed.
We have been promised. We wait.
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:44 ESV)
I don’t know what I am waiting for anymore. Once, I was waiting for a convoluted church process to approve me for pastoral ministry, and then send me on my way to the work I had been called to do. I had big dreams. Ambitions. I wrote a book, I’m a pretty fair writer and singer of songs. All of that was going to be the foundation for for a nice, substantial, comfortable career.
But that was not to be. None of it. In fact, so much of what I waited for in the last ten years has simply crumbled or evaporated in my hands. I have almost nothing to show for myself.
I have given up waiting for anything. Most days I have no hope anymore. So little music in my heart that the callouses on my left hand have slowly worn off. I have a job, my first real job in 10 years, and that’s something, though accounting for inflation, I’m making less now than I did doing the same work 20 years ago.
But … I don’t know what I’m waiting for anymore. I have no dreams. No hopes. I aspire to nothing. I’m not even sure what the promise of God means to me anymore.
So, what does it mean to be ready … if I have no idea what I’m waiting for? If I have no idea what deliverance, or salvation, or redemption — no idea what any of it means.
And how can I be ready at any hour … when I’m not even sure exactly what it is I’m waiting for?