Don’t you hate the waiting? That long, lonely hallway between what was and what is to come? The waiting hallway filled with doubt, “what ifs,” and fear of the unknown, even though you know there’s a God promise at the end of that hallway?
We all encounter these hallways.
Some we expect, and some we chance upon surprised that we’ll have to trudge down a long, narrow walkway to get to the next part of our journey.
We usually don’t embrace these hallways. They aren’t smooth walking or lit with joy. We often see them filled with the tangled, dark, thorny branches of a scary, night forest—The Great Unknown.
We tend to focus on the negative where we end up having more faith in our doubts than on the promises of God.
Advent implies waiting
Mary and Joseph walked one of these hallways.
The waiting was hard—filled with the public rejection that goes with an unwed pregnancy, an uncomfortable journey on a donkey, a smelly birthing room and many long nights of “how is this going to work?”
An angel encouraged Joseph to refocus, and Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, helped Mary process her hallway.
Rather than entertain the negative thoughts that always haunt hallways, Joseph and Mary choose to fill their hallway with the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
They knew there was a promise that would be fulfilled at the end of their hallway—the advent of the long-awaited Messiah.
That promise colored their self-talk.
Rather than envision all the negatives of “what if,” they choose to imagine all the positive things that would materialize when the promise was fulfilled.
They replayed in their mind all the miracles and fulfilled promises that God had given them and their ancestors over the years.
Those imaginations became a tangible substance to them. They could FEEL God working even if they couldn’t see how all the puzzle pieces of the promise would come together.
They struggled to process their fears and focus on what God had said was a fight of faith. This pleased God (Hebrews 11:6).
Their joy became rooted in God, not in the scary unknown of their hallway.
And one night, the Promise was born.
Shepherds showed up, not with baby gifts but with wonder and worship… evidence that this baby was the Messiah.
Later, the Magi arrived with practical gifts that only made sense to Joseph and Mary when they suddenly had to finance a trip to Egypt—more evidence that God had this all worked out for their good.
Advent implies a faith struggle
I don’t know about you, but I have 4 hallways I’m walking down right now. God has given me promises for each one of them.
I catch myself rehearsing the negative “what ifs” of each hallway, and I have to remind myself that such musings only result in believing more for the negative than for God’s promise.
Since my goal in life is to please God, I can’t invest time and energy “seeing” the doubts in my imagination. I have to develop my faith by using my imagination to “see” the promise God has given me.
Of course, negative things happen in dark hallways. Mary and Joseph had their share of them. So will I. But if I’m trusting in God, those roadblocks get taken care of in some kind of God manner.
I want my hallways to be ones of faith. That takes work on my end to keep my mind focused on the right things.
It means learning to trust instead of trying to figure everything out on my own.
And it means having lots of conversations with Jesus about the good things that are happening and stop having conversations with the devil about all the negative things that could happen (otherwise known as worry).
What does your hallway look like this Christmas?
If you don’t know, just think about the last thing you worried about.
Now, what’s the promise God has given you for that concern?
There’s an advent at the end of your hallway. The promise will arrive.
But what you do in the hallway determines if your time of waiting brings the Lord pleasure.
Will it be a hallway of worry, or one of faith?
P.S. If you don’t know much about the season of Advent, read 5 Things to Know About Advent … a post I wrote years ago when I first began to explore Advent.