All of my brothers are significantly older than me. The brother closest in age is nine years older, and the oldest is about thirteen years older than I am. At family reunions, my kids are playmates with their grandkids. When I was my youngest son’s age, my brothers were either in college or about to finish college. It was like having four dads or three extra uncles who were only around sometimes. The one time of year I always got to spend with them was around the holidays. Even if they were in college or grad school they would come home for a couple of weeks. I loved those times.
My brother Wes was a genius. He made incredible grades in high school and college. Because of this, he was accepted to Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C. While I loved going to visit and getting familiar with the nation’s capital, I missed having him around. He’d stayed home during his years as an undergrad, so throughout those four years I was able to pester him and do everything I could to get his attention. But now he was states away and his visits home were few and far between.
But he always came home for the holidays.
There were no cell phones back then, so the timing of his exact arrival was always a mystery. But I would wait for hours. Our house sat on the side of a small mountain, and when you were on the second floor of the house, the street below seemed far away. I loved sitting in the living room at Christmas and listening to my dad’s Christmas mix tapes. There was something about the colors of those lights on the tree and the lights on the street below that carried Wes and other family members home.
I knew he was coming. He had told us. I just had no idea when exactly he would show up.
There is a lot to this being ready when Jesus comes. But when He says to “be alert,” we know one thing for sure: Part of watching for Him is wanting Him to come. When I watched for my brother to show up at Christmas, I was anxious for him to come home. I wanted his presence in our home. When we keep an eye on Jesus’ return, we look forward to His return. We are not wanting Him to delay.
That’s not always easy when things are going well. When the wedding bells are chiming and the money is coming in and the children are being born and the pantries are full to overflowing—that’s when it’s hard to watch for Jesus’ coming. But watch we must.
Because of who He is and what He has done for us, we ought to prize Christ’s presence more than all the good things in our lives that He has given to us. We must long for Him to come and then rejoice when He does— just as a young boy waits for his brother, knowing the things of this world do not shine as brightly as his presence.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond