Advent Devotionals #4 — Waiting on His Presence
The prophet Isaiah records a corporate prayer of the people of Israel in Isaiah 64:1-4,
“Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence! As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble. Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame! When you came down long ago, you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked! For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!”
That’s a prayer that fires me up! I love it, all of it…except for the last three words. Wait for him. I don’t like to wait. So the question is, “Why Wait?” Why wait, even if it’s for God? Well the simple answer is we wait because God is worth it. If we wait for God, he will amaze us.
But the answer goes deeper than amazement. We wait for God because we desperately need him. Look again at Isaiah’s words in vs 5-7
“You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins.”
Wow. Just stop there for a moment. Would you? Just pause. Let the holy hush of the Holy Spirit’s conviction settle on your heart. Don’t get defensive. This isn’t a legalistic rant or a judgmental hypocrisy. This is the Creator’s diagnosis of our hearts. This is the reality of our position before God, without Christ. Would you just read it again and then close your eyes…and ask the Spirit to show you…
We are constant sinners…infected and impure with sin. When we display the best of our best stuff, our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. Yet no one calls on Christ. We don’t take it seriously. We don’t plead with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us…
Isaiah 64:1-8 is a corporate lament for the presence of God from a people who were missing God. Do you understand what that means? This description of infection and filthy rags like something out of the “Walking Dead;” this Is the life of those who do not wait. There are only two choices either we wait for God, or we get infected and swept away by our sins.”
This is the heart of our sin. We do not wait for God. This is the heart of my sin. Christ is calling me to come and be with him and I keep settling for doing for him. And the starting point for us is to admit that we would rather take care of our own lives than wait for God. We would rather do what we think should be done when we should be waiting for God. The starting point is to admit that we don’t want to wait…not even for God. The reality is that the reason we don’t wait, is the very same reason that we desperately need God. We desperately need God because…our sin runs deep.
The sin in my life runs deeper than I care to admit and that is such difficult, hard, bad news. But the bad news serves to highlight the glorious good news… here is the gospel. We wait because He will come close.
Sin runs deep…we are infected with it…we want to do our own thing in our own time for our own glory and God turns his back on us. We lament. We cry for his presence and something shifts…the language turns intimate and personal. And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Isaiah 64:8
We wait because this is what, this is who we need. We need God to be our father and our potter.
At the very heart of Christmas is the presence of Christ who came as the answer to our waiting.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
In what ways does sin run deep in my life?
For what am I waiting this Christmas?
What can I do to prepare for the presence of Christ?
O Christ, that you would burst forth from the heavens and come down again, as you did that first Christmas season. When you came down before you did awesome deeds far beyond our expectations. We long for your coming again. I wait for you to make your presence known. Change my heart; cleanse every sin; deepen my hunger for you; ignite the fire of my heart; open my eyes to see you. Thank you that even though my sin runs deep, your grace runs deeper still. Amen
Take a moment and pray that God’s Spirit will prepare us for this weekend’s worship.