Advent began yesterday. This season of celebrating the waiting and awaiting the celebration is one I have often passed over, choosing instead to get caught up in the hurry and rush and whirlwind that so frequently characterizes our experience of “the holidays.” Rather than muddling through and hoping for the best, this year I am setting aside time each week to ponder the mystery and immensity of the Incarnation, the eucatastrophe of humanity.
Last evening my sister invited several friends to share in a simple Advent liturgy – prayer, scripture, and song in the comfort of our living room. My heart was stirred as we took turns reading from the Book of Common Prayer, the Psalter, the Prophets, and the Gospels. I was reminded how easily I spend all of life waiting and hoping, rather than living each day fully as it comes. There was a moment of silent prayer, and I found myself asking the Lord yet again for something that has been my deepest desire for many years. It has not come, despite anguish and tears and trying and years and years of prayer.
I was glad to be sitting with a friend who has been by my side through nine years of life – a woman who has faced her share of mountains and still clings to Christ. She knows my prayer, even as I know hers. Our individual struggles for wholeness have run on parallel paths, and by God’s grace we have been present to uphold, strengthen, and encourage one another at significant points in our respective histories. Four years ago we were housemates, putting the very fiber of our friendship to the test. Liturgy was an important part of our routine, one that strengthened our faith as well as our relationship. In addition to using the Morning and Evening Prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, we composed several of our own to reflect our callings – present and (hopefully) future. Recently I asked her if she still had those prayers we wrote, and together we marveled at how appropriate they still are for both of us.
One of those prayers has again become part of my routine. I pray to remind myself that although I cannot see God’s hand at work, I still trust that He is working things out for my good and His glory. I pray to remember the prayers He has answered, the wonderful things He has done in my life, the way He has cared for, led, and protected me. But I also pray because I still hope, I still wait. And time and circumstance have not altered this desire – though gratefulness has tempered the sense of urgency that used to accompany it. Petitioning for the future helps me remain in the present.
So then, here is our prayer – one that many others share, I am sure.
Lord, we know that all things are in your hands. We want your will a whole lot more than we want our own. Yet you have created us with these desires: husband, home, family. So we want to be honest: Lord, we do want these things. We humbly ask for them. Father, would you give us husbands we can honor – men after your own heart. Men who will match, fit, and balance us. Lord, we ask for this sooner rather than later – but we want your best, no matter what the timing is. And Father, we know your best may include singleness. If that is the case, give us grace to live full lives in singleness. God, keep us from planning, scheming, or searching this out as you ask us to wait. Keep our hearts pure in our relationships with our brothers. Lord, we submit our desires – our whole lives – to you. Married or single, may we honor and glorify you in ALL that we are, by the grace and mercy of your precious Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.