Christmas is here! And, now it’s gone. The season of waiting, looking forward to the day when we celebrate the birth of Christ, celebrating with family and friends, passing around gifts, is over. The season of Advent has seen its fulfillment at the dawn of Christmas day.
As a kid, Christmas Day was the highpoint of the year. We got to see family members we rarely saw, open presents, play with new toys, and eat mountains of delicious food. But even as good as that was, I noticed early on that Christmas morning never seemed to match my expectations. It always came to an end, and no matter how good it was there always existed mild disappointment that it wasn’t better or didn’t last longer. The end was always a let down.
Maybe you’ve experienced the same thing. The anticipation being better than attaining the actual thing itself. Maybe for you it’s not Christmas. Maybe it’s a vacation long awaited, finally marrying the spouse of your dreams, getting that new car, a new toy, or a new job. But then you realize it doesn’t truly satisfy. It doesn’t really make you as happy as you think it should. This says something very revealing about our desires.
Our desires can never be satisfied by these things. The advent – meaning arrival, or coming – of those events, situations or items, can never actually make us happy. In fact, the more we look to those things for happiness, the more bitter they seem after they arrive or have ended. This begs the question, can anything make us happy? Can anything or anyone satiate these desires that seem to have no limit? In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis notes, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” These longings we all have actually point to something greater.
Between Two Advents
The only one big enough to satisfy seemingly infinite desires is an infinite God. He is what all our hearts, whether we recognize it or not, truly long for. He is the only one grand enough to satisfy us.
In this way, Christians in the 21 century are living between two advents, two arrivals. Christ has come and won for us the prize of eternal life with God, filled with unending joy. He came to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found, so that instead of life being always winter and never Christmas, it will always be Christmas and never winter. The prize has been officially won and promised, but it has not yet been delivered. In the words of Paul, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God (Rom 8:19).” But one day that will change. Christ will come again, creating a new heaven and new earth where we will live forever with him.
At the end of this holiday season and the beginning of the New Year, I encourage you to take stock of what it is you have been longing for and discover how Christ has promised to fulfill those longings. Then, set your heart on Christ. His advent is the only one that doesn’t come with a let-down at the end. His second coming will usher in an endless age where he wipes away all our tears, kills death and pain, and makes all the sad things come untrue. Look for it, pray for it, anticipate it. Live for it.