He Has Come, He Is Coming

The eschatological tension seems unbearable at times. Christ has come, bringing light to a world that knew only darkness. And Christ will return, bringing light to a world that, again, loves darkness. The in-between is the hard part.

I wrestle with the uncertainty, and I’m not sure why. I think it’s one more way in which I am struggling against the Lordship of Christ. I trust Him with my very soul, for I know I’m an unreliable keeper of it, but I apparently think I’m doing a pretty good job of making things happen on time, because I don’t want to rely on God’s schedule for things. My head recognizes the folly, but my heart rages at the silence.

Is this the cause for the dark doubts that well up in me? The question: If God is, and is a rewarder of diligent seekers, then why is there such a long delay between perception and actualization? If I believe, why must I wait until my death to have my belief confirmed? Is it foolishness to believe in a Lord that was and is to come, but barely is? It was this desire for the here and now — the “steak on the plate” in place of “pie in the sky” — that drew me to churches in which theology took a back seat to wit and Christ to the preacher-figure on the stage. It’s a dangerous tendency in myself against which I struggle in various form and guises.

And then comes Advent. A season of the year reserved for contemplating the chasm that threatens to swallow me up. A time for contemplating the now-not yet of it all.

But for some reason, Advent helps me. I know we’re thinking about Christ’s future return, but I tend to focus, perhaps more than I should, on His first visit. The Incarnation reminds me that my hope is not really anchored on the future any more than it is anchored on my own self-worth. It’s anchored on Christ: His birth, His death, His resurrection. That’s all. If I die an old man, all of the bad things I’ve done my entire life won’t matter, because Christ has come to earth. If my children and their children and their children all die old, we will still be present with the God who split time and upended karma to seek and to save those who were lost, but are now found.

They were better people than I am, those who looked forward to the Messiah. Simeon waited patiently at the Temple, while I find only frustration in not-knowing. But during Advent, and even on through Epiphany, we — the Simeon-types and me — both find our faith anchored in the God-man, Jesus Christ.

And maybe, just maybe, I can being to believe that the Creator of all things I trust with my very life, I can trust with a calendar, too. My doubts, they’re just more pride, and I’ve dealt with a lot of that already.

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~ by Phillip Winn on December 28, 2005.

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