Advent means “a coming.” Christmas is coming! We are preparing for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The month of December, each day bringing us one step closer to the 25th, the day set aside to celebrate Jesus’ coming. His coming to earth. Leaving heaven above and coming down to earth, becoming a baby to grow up and endure the cross. Tradition holds that Advent is the 4 Sunday’s prior to Christmas Day. Each Sunday a specific part of what we affectionately call the Christmas Story would be shared and a candle would be lit.
Last year I ran across a great resource called “The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp” a daily devotional starting December 1 and walking us through the story of the Bible. I decided to go through it again this year and have added to it her book for families called “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.” I love how Scripture never grows old. Each time we read and study the Word, God shows up and teaches us something, its fresh and timeless.
Today’s scripture is found in Isaiah 11:1-2 (NASB) “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding , the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. “ If you keep reading through verse ten it resounds with who Jesus is. Righteous. Brings peace. Brings together people who are not likely to be seen together (the wolf with the lamb, the leopard with the goat….verse 6).
These verses bring me hope. Jesus embodies these traits. He is my example, my teacher. Through him I learn, experience and grow in my reverence and worship for God. I have all the understanding, wisdom, strength, counsel, knowledge I will ever need. If I will choose to pause, choose to embrace who He is, choose to slow down and consider.
Consider who He is.
Consider why He came.
Consider what He left when He left heaven and came to earth.
Consider why He left heaven and came down to earth.
Israel had been hoping and waiting for the Messiah for a long time. Well over 400 years. It had been 400 years of silence between the prophets and the birth of Jesus. That’s a long time – well longer than my life time. We live in a culture that wants answers and changes instantly. Few of us remember when things took time to be finished. The time in the mail for a letter to get one from one side of the country to the other. Even our food can come to us quickly. We have forgotten what it is like to have to wait. I am guilty of wanting quick answers. Of wanting to see and experience God move in my life or others in a quick fashion. Yet there is something precious that happens in the waiting, in the time it takes for God to move. Yes God could move quickly. Sometimes he chooses to. Other times, he chooses to move at a pace that we don’t see easily but we must choose to believe He does move.
When I think about the waiting that happened in the Christmas story, there is the Israelites waiting for God to come down to earth; for the silence to be broken. You also have the time frame of Mary being pregnant. When you find out you are pregnant, there is an excitement, a nervousness and an expectation. A desire for it to come quickly and yet go slowly. A mirage of emotions go through your mind. Mary would have known the prophecies. I wonder what she was thinking. To respond as she did when God tells me what is next.
The season I am in right now, I am working hard to be still and wait. Wait for God to show what is next and also to use this time to be prepared for what comes next. The time frame that both the Israelites and Mary had was a time to prepare for the upcoming event. Will I choose to allow God to heal my heart, to direct my steps? Am I anticipating His voice? Am I looking for Him with anticipation?
The end of verse one references a branch which will bear fruit; this makes me think of the verses in John 15 which talk about that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches; we bear fruit when we are connected to the vine.
God did not forget His promise. In His perfect timing He answered. He moved. He fulfilled.
Each year on December 25th, I have an opportunity to celebrate Jesus coming to earth; of God fulfilling His promise to send a Savior. I am reminded that I have much to be thankful for, that HOPE is found in a person and not in circumstances. When I embrace that HOPE is found in the person of Jesus I have the ability to allow Jesus to show up in every area of my life. Each mess. Each success. Each pain. Each laugh. Each smile. Each tear. HOPE shows up and changes the view of how it looks, of how I see it. It changes from being about me to being about JESUS.
My hope for Christmas 2014 is a renewed vision into who Jesus is, what He is up to in the world around me, that He will answer my questions and if he chooses not do to so yet to allow the time of waiting to grow my heart into a purer reflection of Him. Hopeful to know what His vision is for me, for what is next. Hopeful for healing in completeness.
What are you hoping for this year?
Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience printables & much more