For the past few Advents, I have pulled the same book off the shelf to read: The Coming of God by Maria Boulding. It is, by far, the meatiest book I have ever read for Advent. She goes right to the heart of the reason for this season: longing for God–and that longing being indisputable evidence of the prior longing of God for us.
Here are the opening paragraphs of the book:
If you want God, and long for union with him, yet sometimes wonder what that means or whether it can mean anything at all, you are already walking with the God who comes. If you are at times so weary and involved with the struggle of living that yo have no strength even to want him, yet are still dissatisfied that you don’t, you are already keeping Advent in your life. If you have ever had an obscure intuition that the truth of things is somehow better, greater, more wonderful than you deserve or desire, that the touch of God in your life stills you by its gentleness, that there is a mercy beyond anything you could ever suspect, you are already drawn into the central mystery of salvation.
Your hope is not a mocking dream: God creates in human hearts a huge desire and a sense of need, because he wants to fill them with the gift of himself. It is because his self-sharing love is there first, forestalling any response or prayer from our side, that such hope can be in us. WE cannot hope until we know, however obscurely, that there is something to hope for; if we have had no glimpse of a vision, we cannot conduct our lives with vision. And yet we do: there is hope in us, and longing, because grace was there first. God’s longing for us is the spring of ours for him.
So take a moment, look for that desire in your heart however buried it might seem, and simply say, “Come.”