Thirty-seven years ago, my youngest son emerged into this world in the early hours of a blizzard morning. I had been eagerly waiting and watching for him. I had a difficult pregnancy and that heightened my concerns for what was unknown all those months he dwelt within me.
So much was unknown at that time. With a twenty-one month old and a newborn, was I going to really be able to continue my seminary studies? How was his older brother going to do sharing his mother’s affection? Was my fragile marriage going to survive additional onslaught? I had a stop-gap surgery during my pregnancy, how long was I going to be able to put off the major surgery?
And that was the immediate unknown. What about the rest of the unknowns: his childhood and teen-age years? College? Adulthood? His own career? Marriage and family? Health? Add to that his brother’s unknown future and my unknown future and you have all the makings of an anxiety producing life and family!
I think that’s exactly why we don’t know what our future holds. We may think that knowing what’s coming will help us prepare, but we’re never really prepared even when we do know! Things rarely go as planned or anticipated. We may plan for every contingency, but something always pops up, often when we least expect it or in a way we hadn’t considered.
Advent reminds us that the unknown is a gift from God. I also think that waiting or entering into that unknown – as scary as it may seem – actually helps us prepare for what’s ahead. When we stop, rest, and wait, we give ourselves the opportunity to catch up with ourselves. What I’ve really come to know, lo these many years, is that when I’m faced with a vast expanse of unknown, I am not alone. God’s presence dwells with me as I wait. God holds my hand as I walk unsteadily on the uneven terrain. God guides me when the path becomes obscured.
A few hours after my son’s birth, I was sitting up in my hospital room, holding this precious little being that had finally arrived. I looked out the window toward the majestic Rocky Mountains as the sun was rising in the east. The icy white landscape sparkled. Everything ahead was unknown, and yet there was so much to treasure in those precious moments. I sensed God whispering in my ear, “Now we wait. In the meantime, enjoy this beautiful sunrise with your new son.”
P.S. Happy birthday, Luke. I love you!