Long before Take Your Daughter to Work day was established in the 1990s, my father sometimes took me to work with him back in the 1960s. He was a salesman for Wilson Meat Packing Company, and his territory was in and around Montgomery, Alabama.
Back in the day, salespeople had a personal relationship with their customers. Purchase orders were certainly not done online and rarely taken by phone. Daddy’s daily routes took him to each local independent grocery store that sold his products in their meat cases. He met with each store owner or market manager to take their orders for the weekly needs of shoppers who wanted beef and pork for their dinner table.
He took me with him two or three times every summer. It was probably to give my mother a break, but it was a fun day for me to ride with Daddy. All day, we were in and out of medium-sized and small mom-and-pop stores that served their communities. These businesses are rare these days, overtaken by corporate giants, but it was personal back then.
I enjoyed meeting people who knew and liked my father and who were usually welcoming to me too. I thought it was cool getting to go back to the butcher shop area and into the meat freezer where huge sides of beef were dangling from ceiling hooks. I liked looking at the charts on the wall showing the different cuts of meat and watching skilled butchers artfully carve out filet mignon or grind up a pound of hamburger meat upon request. Health and safety regulations were more relaxed in those days.
But the boring parts of the day were when the managers were busy, and we had to wait a while before Daddy could take the orders. I remember sitting beside him and asking questions like, “why do we have to wait all the time?” and “how much longer is it going to be?”
Although I was only about ten, I will never forget his answer. My father told me, “We have to wait for the Boss. Waiting is just something you have to get used to. You’ll find that most of your life is spent waiting.”
Who knows why that made such an impression on me? The truth of it has proved itself over and over.
We wait for the water to boil,
Or the fish to bite,
Or for the baby to be born.
We are delayed in a traffic jam,
Or become frustrated with long check-out lines.
They say the check is in the mail when it’s not.
We try to be patient as someone gets dressed,
Or the prodigal to return.
And we sit by the phone, anticipating the doctor’s call.
In an age when multitasking is considered a virtue and wasting time a weakness, we have difficulty with the paradox of embracing our times of waiting. Advent is just such a time.
It is busy with special events added to the calendar and holiday preparations that must be done over these four weeks. Yet, in theory, it is focused on anticipation – waiting for the Big Day.
Adults who have learned to pace themselves help children with their impatience as they “can’t wait” for it to get here. They ask, “How much longer is it going to be?” For them, it seems like “always winter, and never Christmas.” We teach them delayed gratification. They learn to hold off from doing certain things like opening presents so when that special time arrives, it will be all the more glorious. Anticipation builds excitement. But learning patience is hard.
We will celebrate all the wonders that took place with the Messiah Yeshua’s birth, Jesus the Anointed One, the King. We look back upon the Incarnation of God in the flesh. The promise was given to prophets of old.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1: 1-2)
But during Advent, preparing to celebrate His first coming, there is this overlay of lingering anticipation of His next arrival. He is coming again because He promised He would, and we look forward to it.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! –Revelation 22:20
With the world as it is, troubling events piling up, and the stressors of 2020, how much more do we have a deep longing for His return? “How much longer is it going to be, Daddy?”
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. – Romans 8:25
And yet, there is still work to be done as we live between the “now” and “not yet.” We don’t idly sit back, doing nothing, especially because we don’t know the day or the hour. It sure looks like the season now, but folks from the time of the apostles thought it was imminent. His delay is because of His patience, waiting to bring more family members into the joy of His Kingdom. We do Kingdom work. The Father wants you to come to work for Him, helping to bring the family home.
So we work and wait on the Boss. It’s His call when He comes. In the meantime, this is my prayer for you:
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and PATIENCE with joy. (Colossians 1:11)
Enjoy this season of Advent, because it’s not Christmas yet.