To Wait. This verb seems to have been misplaced from the modern-day vocabulary. The I-Phones, the endless stream of social media, the Google searches…everything is at our fingertips. We seek entertainment in each moment and we want gratification right at the onset of any desire.

As soon as we are hungry, we look for the nearest fast food restaurant to quickly fill us. As soon as we are bored, we want the newest movie streaming on our phones. As soon as two people start dating, they often want each other’s bodies to satisfy their own desires. As soon as something difficult has begun, we look for every possible way to make it end.

The problem with this fast-paced mentality is that the old saying, if something is worth having it is worth waiting for, still rings true in the most fundamental aspects of nature. A farmer waits for his crops, a mother waits for the child in her womb, a bride and groom wait for the day they will become one, a winemaker waits for his wine to ferment and age, and the list goes on and on. Those things in life that are most worthwhile, often require the greatest sacrifice of time and self in order to obtain.

Perhaps in losing the value of waiting we have forgotten the value of that which we were waiting on. Even more so, maybe we no longer know what it means to wait.

A person can wait passively—bored and begrudgingly waiting because it is required of them—or a person can wait actively—spending the passing time preparing for that which is to come. The first results in resenting the time that was spent waiting and a feeling of entitlement towards the object that the person now feels has been well deserved; belittling the value of the object as ingratitude so often tends to do. The second, however, results in a waiting full of growth. It results in living with joyful sorrow, of both a hope of the joy that is to come and a yearning that compels the person to prepare for its coming.

If a farmer does not tend his crops, or a mother does not prepare a place for the child, or a bride and groom do not prepare their hearts and bodies to die to self for the sake of the other —then when the time comes, the big moment that they have been waiting for, they will find that they are not ready and that which they so desired before has lost its appeal.

Perhaps these natural opportunities to wait are given to us as gifts to remind us that our entire lives are one big “wait”. We have been made an offer of betrothal. Christ, our Bridegroom, has offered us His heart, His body, and His crown. If we choose to say ‘Yes’ to this proposal then our time here on Earth is spent waiting for the return of our Bridegroom whom, as was Jewish tradition for men to do, has left to prepare a house for His betrothed, his people. When He is done, He will return to sweep up His Love and carry her to His Heavenly Kingdom.

The question then becomes will we spend our time waiting passively or actively? When Christ returns, will He find His Bride prepared and ready for Him? Or will He say, as He did to the virgins in the Bible who did not bring oil for their lamps, “I do not know you.”

During this time of Advent we remember the first adventus (coming) of our Savior and prepare ourselves in anticipation for when He will come again. As a model of perfect waiting, we look to a young Jewish girl who was the first one on Earth to prepare a resting place for the coming of our Lord. Mary not only awaited the birth of her child, as all mothers do, but represented the final wait of the Jewish people who for so long had awaited a Messiah to save them. If anyone knows what it is like to be so close to her greatest longing and yet have to wait, it is her.

But imagine the joy that she felt when her time of waiting was over and she was able to look into the eyes of God and kiss the face of God as she held Him in her hands. The wait amounts to nothing when it stands next to the prize at the end.

So I pray that this Advent season we all remember that the best things in life are worth waiting for and that time spent in waiting is time given as a gift to be preparing. No matter what it is in your life that you are being asked to wait for right now, choose to await it with joyful anticipation and faithful preparation. As you do, the value of that which you are waiting for will be made ever more clear to you. As a bride who is eagerly waiting to marry her groom in seven short months, I can attest that this is true.