like a thief in the night

jesse_treeAs December begins, I find myself waiting for childbirth, Christmas, and the second coming of Christ.  Of these three, only Christmas will come according to schedule!  Baby will come whenever she is ready – maybe today, maybe three weeks from now.   And of course, “you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” (1 Thess. 5:2)

Baby is likely to come first.  Am I ready?  I like to think I am.  Hospital bag is packed, childcare for my older two is set up, baby clothes are waiting in a drawer.  I have seven or eight meals in the freezer and several more that I hope to cook this week.  I’ve been to the dentist, optometrist and hair salon so I can minimize appointments post-baby.  The house has been cleaned and de-cluttered (not 100%, but enough).  I’ve stocked up on diapers, coffee, and dark chocolate.

But am I really ready? – ready for the pain of her arrival, the pain of feeding her, the pain of waking up from much-needed sleep to care for her at 2 AM?  Am I ready to care for my family during the first few months of constant fatigue?  Am I ready to deal with the crying and screaming the 19-month old will likely dish out when baby sister’s needs run up against hers?  Am I ready to live peacefully in a home that won’t be as clean as I like it to be until springtime?

I can only hope and pray.

After baby will come Christmas.  Am I ready?  I’ve designed & printed up our family Christmas card.  I’ve purchased about 85% of our Christmas gifts.  Pete put our lights up two weeks ago.  I’ve gotten out our Advent wreath and our Jesse tree.  I even baked and froze cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning.

But am I really ready? – ready to re-examine my heart and my habits during this “little Lent”?  Ready to keep my mind and heart on Christ instead of on baking & gift-wrapping?

I can only hope and pray.

And then there’s the day that we truly wait and long for, during Advent and always.  The day of Christ returning and completing His work.  Am I ready?  I certainly long for it.  Whenever I read the news I long for it.  Whenever I see suffering I long for it.  I wonder, again and again, why He hasn’t come back yet to solve all this suffering, and I do my very best to trust that His timing is perfect.

How can I ever even hope to be ready?  I read His words, not often enough.  I attend Mass, not attentively enough.  I strive to love the people around me, but fail daily.  I do my best to build His kingdom, to have our tiny corner of it as ready as can be, to “make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3)  But I know that even this tiny corner of the kingdom, my little home, is so, so far from perfect.

I can only hope and pray.  But I will do so with joy:

… and further Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse shall come,
he who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him shall the Gentiles hope.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Rom. 15:12-13)

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