When I was in eighth grade, I asked my parents for something special for Christmas. At that time, I was a proud member of the Alamo Jr. High Band (Go Scouts!) and had a rapidly growing obsession with all things percussion, so when my parents asked me what I would like for Christmas that year, there was really only one answer: a drum set.
So, I submitted my official request and the wait began. I waited … and waited … and waited.
The Christmas season is so brutal when you’re a kid.
The days had to be twice as long in December, and they are full of tirelessly counting down the days until that day. Then, finally, the morning comes when you get to see if what you asked for, what you hoped for, is there waiting for you.
That year, our family was spending the Christmas holiday out of town with family in Central Texas, and when we gathered around and began exchanging and opening presents, my father stood up and held out a piece of paper for me.
Confused, but also incredibly excited, I eagerly took the piece of paper and my eyes devoured what I found printed on it.
‘A picture of a promise’
On the paper, there was a picture of a cherry-red, five-piece drum set and a handwritten note at the bottom that read, “Waiting for you at home, love you, Mom and Dad.” I was beside myself with excitement. I couldn’t believe it. I was getting a drum set!
Yes, it meant more waiting, but in my hands was a picture of a promise, and it was beautiful.
I remember spending most of the rest of our time there and the trip back home studying that picture. I would think about where I was going to put it in the house and consider all the different ways I could arrange the set.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how excited I was to tell my friends about it and have them over to my house to see it. Most importantly though, I spent that time thinking about how much I was going to love playing on it.
I honestly didn’t think I could be more excited about it, but, much to my delight, I discovered that upon arriving at home and sitting down at my new drum set, my enjoyment of this gift would increase tenfold. I remember playing for hours on end … until my parents threatened me to stop.
I’m just kidding, but they did make me move it to the attic to practice.
Yes, the picture had been wonderful, and the promise of the gift had been great, but it wasn’t until I sat down and started playing those drums that I experienced the deep joy of the gift.
A promise in a Person
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Just try to imagine the unbridled excitement that the captivity-laden nation of Israel must have felt at these words from Isaiah. Imagine their joy as they held on to the beautiful word picture that God graciously gave them through his prophet: how they must have studied it, hoped in it and looked eagerly to the day when the picture would become a person.
And then it did.
One awfully mundane night, in an awfully mundane place, when the world was crying out in desperate need of saving, the fanfare of heaven came to finally bring forth the fulfillment of a long-awaited promise, and with one voice all of creation cried out an announcement of a royal birth.
The King of Kings, the Son of Man, the Word made flesh, had come.
And as he lay in a feeding trough, the song of the angels rose with a clarion chorus of “Behold the Savior!”
My prayer this Advent season is that we would join in that same angels’ song from long ago and lift our voices in unison to declare “Behold the Savior” to a dark and desperate world.
The light of Jesus continues to shine in the darkness, leading the longing to his presence, and the wonderful truth is this: the darkness will never overcome it.
Jason Dunton is the contemporary worship arts pastor at First Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas, where he lives and loves with his wife, Joanna, daughter, Penelope, and English bulldog, Grubby.