Waiting Well: Advent Wk 1: Confident Desperation
Advent: Waiting Well Week 1: Confident Desperation
This is especially true during Advent. In waiting for Christmas, we want to actively receive God’s grace by opening our hearts and souls to his unmerited favor. This series encourages us to prepare our hearts and souls for the arrival of Christ as we wait for Christmas Day.
Advent is about waiting for the Lord in a very different way than just sort of sitting around waiting for him to enter a room or something because Advent is a season of wholehearted and joyful preparation for the coming of Jesus into the world. The gospel told us today “You also must be prepared, for. . . the Son of Man will come.”
Because Advent is about joyful preparation, the meaning is in the waiting, because we have to prepare and wait. Ultimately the meaning of Advent is in the waiting. That’s a hard concept to grasp. The meaning is in the waiting, so we want to wait well. Waiting well is difficult for some of us. If you are like me, I hate to wait.
Sometimes we get what waiting looks like wrong. We think ok, I have to wait, so in the meantime I’ll just sit here and be patient. But, Advent waiting, this type of waiting well, it’s not passive. It’s an active waiting. Maybe we hate to wait because we are doing it wrong. So how can we wait well? How do we wait for Jesus to come into our lives?
Maybe you are sitting there thinking, what are you talking about waiting. You are thinking, my life is so busy I feel desperate. I have all this Christmas stuff to get and do! Who the heck has time to wait! Work and life is crazy! I don’t have time to wait for anything! But you know even when you are feeling a bit desperate for time or peace in your life, there is such a thing as a CONFIDENT desperation.
But maybe sometimes you feel like you are at your wits end and just flat out desperate for help or relief of some type. Maybe Henry David Thoreau’s famous comment that most people live lives of QUIET desperation rings true for you.
If you are not familiar with Henry David’ Thoreau’s Walden, there is a famous quote from that book in which he says: “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” That is, they never had the opportunity to sing the song of their lives. They go to the grave singing the song of quiet desperation.
By QUIET desperation Thoreau means the suffering of people who lead shallow, inauthentic lives dominated by competition for wealth, success, or the struggle for survival. Thoreau describes these people as leaving the city and entering the country, desperate for distraction or a respite from their busy lives, only to return to the city, unchanged.
There was a time when I was very young when I felt that way. I felt like when I was driving my car I just wanted to drive off a bridge or something. You ever feel that way? I’m not sure if my life was inauthentic, maybe shallow though, and I definitely felt like I was caught up in some sort of rat race for survival. I was in a place of quiet desperation, and I felt very alone. Have you ever felt that way?
Unlike quiet desperation there is a thing called confident desperation. There is a big difference between confident desperation and quiet desperation. Quiet desperation is a place of no hope or little hope, quiet desperation with no hope because God is not involved or certainly not a priority in your life. Confident desperation is full of hope because God is involved and a priority in your life. If I have that sort of confident desperation, I can be fine, even in the midst of being desperate.
We can take confident desperation even further. To take it a step further, confident desperation is developing a practically desperate desire for God to be in your life and your life to be in God.
We want to establish, in our hearts, a desperate desire for God to come into our lives, into areas where we have not allowed him in the past. We desperately want God to help us change those areas because we can not do it on our own. And we have confidence that if we pray for him to do that, he will do it. We want to have that confident desperation.
I know this about myself and I know this about my heart, I imagine that you know this about yourself and your heart, too. On my own, I can’t possibly love God as much as he can possibly be loved by me. Let me say that again. On my own, I can’t possibly love God as much as he can possibly be loved by me.
But if God makes my heart new, if he makes me new, if I say, ‘God, I give you permission this Advent to come into parts of my heart that you haven’t come into yet, to come into parts of my life that you haven’t come into yet. I give you permission to make my heart bigger so that I can love you as much as you can possibly be loved.’ I just have to ask the question: do you want that? Do you desire that?”
Do you desire to love God as much as he can be loved by you? Then ask for it. God will come and change your life for the better if you desire it and you invite him into it, not because we are worthy and ready but because we need him. We cannot do it on our own.
That is what we ultimately want you to know today. God will come and change your life for the better if you desire it and you invite him into it, not because we are worthy and ready but because we need him. We cannot do it on our own.
This is what we would like for you to do.
Pray this prayer to God:
Jesus, I give you permission to inflame my heart to set me afire with passion and desire for you. Come into the areas of my life where I desperately need you, but I have not yet given you permission. I have not allowed you in there. Lord, align my desires with your desires. Amen.
If you can do this now and we continue down this path for these four weeks of Advent, I guarantee you’ll have a Christmas like you’ve never had before.