The world we live in doesn’t often give us a chance to slow down and catch our breath. It’s fast paced and doesn’t show signs of stopping. In many ways the slowness of the pandemic feels like a distant memory.
Life happens. And it happens again and again and again. There are trials and tests and struggles. There is loss and hurt and change.
Even as we speak, I am in the middle of a transitional season. There are decisions to be made as soon as possible. There are several questions looming over me with no apparent answer. I’m honestly at both a crossroads and a loss. I don’t know which way to go or what to do.
I don’t normally do well with change. And this situation is no different. I very much wish I could say that I’m excited about what’s to come, but I’m not. I’m a bit fearful and worried. I’m concerned about the outcome. There are a million ways this could play out . . . some of them great and some, not so much.
When unexpected seasons come my way, I often think about Peter and the disciples in Matthew 14:25-32. When Jesus was walking on the water, the disciples thought He was a ghost and even cried out in fear. I understand that all too well. Jesus told them to not be afraid and to take courage. Those were words He has spoken numerous times before. Peter locked eyes with his Savior, stepped out of the boat, and walked on the water toward his Lord. Then, He took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the wind and the waves. Immediately, Peter began to sink. Jesus graciously rescued him in the midst of all of his doubt. This, I also understand well.
How many times am I Peter in the story? How many times are you? How often do we take our eyes off of Jesus and fix them on the natural and temporal things of the earth? How many times do we see the Lord moving and yet we still doubt?
During this Christmas season, I also think about Mary and her season of transition. She was just a girl with very little idea of the gravity of what God was asking of her. Luke 1:26-38 tells of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary detailing how she would conceive Jesus by the Holy Spirit. She was greatly troubled at his words. Again, God’s reassurance was to not be afraid. Mary’s response was that she was the Lord’s servant and that His will should be fulfilled.
What faith did it take for both Peter and Mary to look upon Christ, to trust Him, and to obey, whether it was for a moment or a lifetime? They were both in unforeseen circumstances. They were both met with a test of their faith. They were both challenged by where they would set their attentions.
We are faced with the same decision every day. It is ridiculously easy for me to look to the right and to the left. I often pride myself on being extremely independent and self sufficient. I’m a problem solver. But, only one actually has the power to say that their word will never fail. Guess what? It’s not me.
The season of Advent is the perfect opportunity for us to slow down, remember the Lord’s faithfulness, and focus on Christ in the midst of the chaos surrounding us.
When Jesus was born, He came into the world bringing gifts to the broken, the weary, the lost, the hurting, and the confused. He came with the gift of hope. Titus 2:13 describes Jesus as our blessed hope. He is the gift of hope to the hopeless. He is the very reason why you and I can look forward knowing that His plans are for our good. He will never fail us. He is our faithful Father.
1 John 4:7-21 repeatedly tells us of all the ways in which God is love. It is because of His great love for us that He sent Jesus to save a dying world from their sin. It is through His love that we can love Him and love others. God’s love is how we can even know Him, how we are able to wait for Christ’s return. His love sustains us when the wind and the waves seem to engulf us. His love won’t let us drown.
Jesus’ birth was a great joy to Mary and Joseph and those who were foretold of His coming. There are numerous verses to speak of Jesus’ joy being made complete in us and His joy being our strength and finding joy in His presence. It is through His joy that I can consider it pure joy when I encounter trials. He is the lifter of our heads and our strong tower.
Jesus is called Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6. And 2 Thessalonians 3:16 calls Him the Lord of peace and then goes on to say He gives peace at all times, in every way. Repeatedly God is offering peace to His children freely. His peace is what anchors us to Himself, to His heart, and to His promises. We can rest in knowing His grace is sufficient for us no matter the thorn in our flesh.
Advent is the language of Heaven…hope, love, joy, and peace. And Jesus’ life spoke this language.
I am choosing to speak Heaven’s language throughout endless uncertainty.
I will gaze into His hope.
I will bask in His love.
I will dance in His joy.
I will rest in His peace.
If you find yourself in need of the hope, love, joy, and peace that is only found in the Lord, I’d love to pray for you!