Not just getting through the day

Let’s check our pulse as we enter into Christmas week. How are you feeling? Peaceful and still, or burnt out and frazzled with the whirlwind of plans and obligations? (It’s okay to say you are not struggling, we are all just jealous!)

I feel like no matter how hard I try to focus on the coming of Jesus and “the reason for the season” I miss the mark. I start out strong with my SheReadsTruth Advent study in the morning before work (click here to read along!) but then by the time I am 15 minutes into my work day, all the familiar stresses overwhelm me and push the peace I had aside. Instead I become full of the normal cares of life and I wander away from the perfect peace I experienced before.

How do we keep that perfect peace of God’s love for us throughout the day?

In Luke chapter 15 Jesus tells a parable about a lost sheep. A shepherd had a hundred sheep but one of them had wandered off and gotten lost. The shepherd left the ninety-nine in open country while he left to search out the lost one. And when he found it, he brought it back on his shoulders rejoicing. 

My first reaction to this story was how irresponsible it was to leave the other 99 unattended. I’m sitting here thinking about all the dangers and risks of doing that. As that shepherd I’d be racked with guilt and dilemma. I love the one sheep, but what about all the others? How could I leave them all in the open country without any other protection? Wouldn’t I rather lose one than save one and lose 99?

Thankfully for us, God doesn’t think this way. He’s not hung up on the burdens and cares. Not that they aren’t important, but that his love is bigger than the cares. His love for us is so huge that to lay aside his heavenly crown and trade it for humanity is no big thing.

This is the mystery we try to unravel each Advent season. Putting together the pieces of prophecy and promise in scripture in light of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Christmas sets his plan of love in motion.

Be convinced of God’s love

I have made an effort to stop saying “get through the day”. I don’t want to just get through the day; it’s not the attitude I want to have. While we can’t have the mountaintop experience of faith every day, we still can remain in God’s love every day. All it takes is a simple prayer in the morning.

Don’t be discouraged if this is difficult. He sees your heart. He sees you trying. It is, after all, a work of the Spirit and unable to be manufactured by human hands. Pray and ask that the Lord would send you reminders throughout the day to strengthen you.

And then don’t sit around worrying; go, and do what you need to do. After Jesus would heal someone, he wouldn’t say to them, “Now go sit and think about what you’ve done some more and keep feeling bad about it.” No! He told them to “Go, and sin no more.”

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, netiher height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

All of these things are passing away as the earth is passing away. In its place we know will be a new heaven and earth, a perfect situation that won’t change. And in the meantime, though, the circumstances do not determine God’s unfailing love for us.  His love for us falls outside the power of anything or anyone else.

And here I am now – my day isn’t perfect, but again it is. And I don’t even have to wait for eternity to take advantage of it. The joy of salvation is hope. And hope is what I have this very minute.  

Why we celebrate Advent

God knows that it is good for us to practice waiting; he built it into our very design and that of the universe around us. A baby takes 40 weeks to develop in the womb. A bear waits for spring. A diamond is formed. We know this, and yet we still actively or passively forget how to wait. A web page opens 15 seconds too slow, a traffic light takes “forever”. Waiting to conceive, for a proposal, for healing, for justice.

Each year about this time, I go to church where we hear about the beauty of waiting and allowing God to work in his time and his ways. Afterwards, we rush off to busy ourselves with all the shopping, cooking, visiting, and all other kinds of busyness. Once spent with all our efforts and plans, we wonder why we need to decompress from the season. Having waited all year long for Christmastime, I think we have lost the ability to enjoy it for what it is: Waiting.

The season of Advent is a spiritual kind of waiting when believers make preparations for the coming of Jesus and for the salvation he promises to bring for the whole earth. We try to re-remember who He is and why we need him. In the pages of the Bible we learn that we share the same hearts as our ancient forefathers in faith. Longing for salvation has never left us.

God’s purpose in giving us this glimpse of hope wasn’t exactly to invite us into the solution. Sarah knew that God had promised her and Abraham would have as many descendants as the sand on the seashore. But they were very old and it wasn’t happening. She faced the challenge of having to decide whether to trust her own reasoning or to trust that God would be faithful to deliver.

We know that in Genesis 16 Sarah lost her patience and tried to hurry along God’s promise herself. Although this exact story probably wouldn’t happen today, we are also guilty of the same untrust and unbelief when we take action outside of God’s will. 

It’s the motivation to lie, steal, cheat our way forward, because in our hearts we don’t fully trust God’s way to work for us. We try to self medicate and take things into our own hands. It’s easy to point out and incredibly difficult to do.

Whatever this may look like for you in your life, the motivation behind sin is always going to look like a lack of trust in God’s goodness. Because if he was good, you wouldn’t have to wait right?

That God’s goodness depends on our understanding is human reasoning.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways

    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

Even so, God understands our impatient hearts even more than we do. Even while we may not understand or agree, we cannot deny that we are utterly limited in all aspects of our being; God is not. He asks us to trust because we will never be able to fully understand this side of heaven. Like a father who is coaxing his daughter to jump in the pool, our Father coaxes us to just trust. Even though nothing makes sense and even though we have seen how heavy things sink to the bottom. We jump because we know that our Father is good and has never failed us in the past. We jump because of his track record.

Abraham had even less information than we do today about God’s goodness and provision. He didn’t have the whole of scripture to bask in, nor did he have as many faithful people that came before to leave behind lives of trust and worship. Even so, he knew the Lord so well, was so convicted of hearing the Lord’s voice and so moved by that command to take up and move to a foreign land that he had no choice but to believe and do it.

The season of Advent then, is our annual opportunity to return back to the question of waiting. Will we await the coming of Jesus with hope and belief? Or will we sink back to our own understanding where we must make a way for ourselves before things get too out of hand?

My prayer for us this Advent season is that we would lean into the waiting and the unknown, taking comfort and refuge in the Good Father who has it all under control.

Reflection

  • Read Psalm 106 
  • Prayerfully consider what you can practice waiting with faith on this season

How to Win at Advent

I had a great idea for an Advent blog series this year. In my mind, I had booklets and devotions and things I was going to read, make, and give. Come that first morning of Advent, I would jump out of bed bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to meditate, savor, and discover what divine joy was in store for me. I was going to win at advent and it would all commence at the starter’s pistol of my alarm clock.

But then 6 am on Dec 1 passed… and then 6 more days happened.

Surely December 7 is too late to start? This morning, I opened up my blog’s admin center with head hung in shame as I faced the reality of my failure. I had not lived up to the expectation. I had already failed.

My life can be summed up by this screen shot:

Capture

Plans unfinished.

But isn’t that just the point? I can’t tell you how I was blessed in stumbling across The Year of the Imperfect Advent this morning. In it, Hannah C. Hall talks about the hopes and dreams she had for this season, only to be bitterly disappointed by reality.

But then she realized where she had missed the point:

Yes, Advent calendars bring daily attention to His coming. Parties and programs point us to rejoicing in Him. Devotions can lead us into holy conversations with our kids. But none of these will save our children, nor make us the best moms, nor make our plans go off without a hitch.

There’s only one thing our children need to celebrate Advent. There’s only one thing we need: Our God. Wrapped in baby-soft flesh. Conceived by the Holy Spirit. Perfection accomplished.

He is all we need this Advent.

Jesus has come.

And He is enough.

An invisible weight lifted off my heard at the words “Jesus is enough”.  We are all in a frenzy to be so faithful that we ironically lose sight of the point of Advent, and indeed choosing to be called a Christian.

I remember the truth of Philippians 1:6: For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

God’s work on me was begun when I first believed, but it has not finished. I’m still being transformed and will continue to be transformed until either I go to see Him, or He comes to see me.

Amid the Pinterest-picture-perfect holiday rush, can we all just admit that we are already safe, even without the trimmings and accomplished lists ?

This year I just want to be intentional about each day because I spend all year long forgetting that He is enough. So what if I didn’t start “On Time”? I’m here now and it is time to soak up the love of God which is without fear or shame.

How to win at

ink-image


Have ideas on how can we make Pure Disciple better? We’d love to hear from you! 

 

Advent devotions for 2012

Advent devotions for 2012

Happy Advent! I know it’s been a long time, but I have been thinking of my lonely little blog and thought I should start writing again. I am so excited to get into this! 🙂

Also, for phones and tablets: download Solid Joys

why? because…