Voices
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Watching for Christmas

The waiting is worth it: Patiently, expectantly keep watch

Issue: "'To stay is to be killed'," Nov. 29, 2008

Sally and I pulled a line taut between us the width of Mrs. Chesbro's garden in Osterville, Cape Cod, and drove in each of our stakes. Sally took the non-business end of a hoe and traced a shallow groove along the guide as I followed, dropping zinnia seeds at regular intervals. A last pass covered the seeds with earth, like some elongated burial ground. Then we went off to other chores.

"See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains" (James 5:7).

Strange weather we're having these days. God has put all things in subjection under the Son, "He has left nothing that is not put under Him." (Past tense) "But now we do not yet see all things put under Him." (Present tense) The foundations crumbled, first the twin towers, then seven prophetic Septembers later, the economic pillars. What to make of it?

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Sally and I came every morning to look down the rows at the long welts we had made in Mrs. Chesbro's acre, trying to visualize the rousing of an irrepressible power we believed in but could not see. One day our patience was rewarded with a barely discernable heaving. The following morning, the hairline fissures. The next day, a miniature earthquake stretching from one stake to the other.

"On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, . . . and all the people who are on the face of the earth shall quake at My presence" (Ezekiel 38:19-20).

Violent contractions from the watery womb of a peasant girl expel the baby-once a King attended by myriads of angels-into the smell of barnyard animals. This is just the beginning. "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:12). The Baptist's hair shirt and nonreligious style show that this is a different kind of warfare.

The Temple is finally rebuilt but is a disappointment. The prophet said the king would come (Zechariah 9:9) and a fountain would be opened for sin (13:1), the Spirit poured out (12:10), the nations joined with us (2:11). But the Lord has not come and the nations have not joined. Or at least it is hard to see. "Where is the promise of His coming?" 
(2 Peter 3:4).

With hope's fire burning low, most people stop watching the horizon for the fist-sized cloud. They sink into apathy and marital unfaithfulness and greed (Malachi). Prophecy falls silent for 400 years. Then, without warning, the Lord comes to His Temple (Matthew).

Who is the man, bent with age, making his way to the Temple "by the Spirit" (Luke 2:25)? Who is the ancient prophetess Anna, also in attendance at this occasion? Both of them look like refugees from a dispensation long past. Were only these two of all the remnant of Zechariah's second temple invited to the dedication? What makes them so highly favored?

Nothing but this: When it had become most unpopular, they were still "waiting for the Consolation of Israel." They were pressing into the kingdom, taking it by force, exerting muscular watchfulness, and they spoke of Him "to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38). People surely thought them mad.

"Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens" (Hebrews 12:26). "And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth" (Revelation 16:18).

With hope's fire burning low, most in our day stop watching the horizon for the fist-sized cloud. They sink into apathy and marital unfaithfulness and greed. Scoffers scoff: "Where is the promise of His coming?" Blessed are those who have not become too sophisticated to watch for the fissures.

"For yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him" (Hebrews 10:37-38).

If you have a question or comment for Andrée Seu, send it to aseu@worldmag.com.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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