Our Personal "Advent" Season
BY DONNA CHURCHILL
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:…” “I waited patiently for the Lord and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”
(Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:7a, Psalm 40:1)
I recently stumbled upon an old post I had written on my own personal blog page dated back to December, 2016. It reminded me of something God had showed me at that time. And even though Advent season and Christmas of 2021 is just a memory, this was a timely reminder for me and I’d like to share it with you.
As you may remember from a previous post here, I mentioned that I love celebrating the Advent season; the time of waiting, watching and anticipating the celebration of Christ’s birth. I love the Christmas season and all its “trappings.” I always try to get my shopping done early so I can enjoy the season. I love relaxing at home on a cold winter’s night, enjoying the lights on my tree, reflecting on what this season means spiritually and watching Christmas movies that have happy endings. I love happy endings!!
The Christmas season, too, has a happy ending. All our anticipating, waiting and watching culminates in the celebration of the birth of Jesus, our Savior, the One who has come to save us from our sin and from ourselves. He comes with a promise and it’s because we know that, that our season of waiting is so full of joyful anticipation – we know that our hope will be fulfilled! We know the answer! We know that what (who) we’re waiting for has come.
What God showed me all those years ago focused on all the other waiting periods in my life; other periods of anticipation, watching and waiting. I think most of you are like me in the sense that there are things you have been praying for and waiting for for a very long time and you long, truly long to see God move in answering those prayers. Whether it’s for a loved one’s salvation, a healing, a prodigal child, a promised promotion or raise, deliverance from a besetting sin, or whatever it may be, we continue to cry out to God and wait for His intervention. Sometimes we pray with hope in our heart and trust that God hears and will answer, but sometimes we cry out in frustration wondering why God seemingly doesn’t hear or care about our pleadings. We wait, but not always with the confidence that what we wait and hope for will be fulfilled.
What if we embraced the answer to our prayer like it was a done deal and began to live in Advent (a waiting season; a season of preparation) of this promise?
What if we could wait in joyful expectation, just as we do at Christmas time, anticipating, waiting and watching, believing the promise is in our future?
What if we could just enjoy the “trappings” of this “season” right where we are at?
Enjoy what God is doing in our heart as a result of this time of waiting?
Enjoy the “lights,” the “music,” the “decorations,” God is “putting up” in our heart during this, our personal “Advent” season?
Jeff Goins asks it so well – “What if we fell in love with the in-between times, relishing instead of resenting them?”
What if God isn’t “preparing” us for anything other than this very moment?
Scripture tells me that God hears and answers my prayers, therefore I need to live in the assurance that His Word is true and wait in joyfulness, anticipating how and when He is going to move! But in that anticipation, I believe God is doing something in me, too.
When we are in a state of waiting, God is moving!! He’s at work in our heart; what if we embraced what He is doing right now even when we can’t see it? What if we just believe it?
“Waiting is not always a bad thing; it can bring its own joy – the thrill of anticipation.” David Jeremiah
Just as our hearts are filled with anticipation during the Advent season, we need to embrace the waiting in our own personal advent with anticipation and expectancy in our hearts and the wonderment of how and when God will answer our prayers!
Because, surely He will!
But what if we find the answer was in the journey all along?
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord."
In a few short days, a new year begins. It happens every year. It seems odd that the year ends right after Christmas. With the birth of a Baby as important as Jesus, you’d think it would be the start of the year. I suppose that it’s a worldly stance. A new year is a chance to start anew.
Some of us make resolutions, many do not. It’s a time to reflect on what has taken place the last year of our lives. Some have been good, some not so much. Whether we like it or not, we are still wandering through this valley of the Pandemic. Most of us are saying in our hearts, “I’m so ready for this to be over.” I relate to this. I’m sick of masks, Covid tests, but it has not ended.
Only God knows how long we will have to endure this tragic time of shortages, illness, to vaccinate or not vaccinate. So many questions, yet there are not any concrete answers. What is truth is that our God is with us!
We fall prey to daily challenges of still wearing masks. Yet at the same time so many of our last three years has brought about so many new beginnings. Psalm 40 says it clearly – “I wait patiently” so often I have not waited patiently. Now I find myself with the onslaught of a new year, new experiences, rekindling old friendships, getting acquainted with the new friends, learning new things about myself that I’m not sure I like, but I can’t get away from the Pandemic Challenge! But I can control how I respond!
God promises us new mercies every morning. I am more aware that in each new moment, we get to move on one step at a time. Waiting isn’t easy, but if we trust God, we will get through this time. I find that I am more patient than a year ago, yet I still haven’t arrived. I know that in my heart, the past few years have come to mean so much more than I ever imagined.
I’ve made many new friends this year. And even though there were many moments of anxiety and fear to not move forward, God doesn’t leave me in the swamp. He carries me, He walks with me, He comforts me; and most importantly, He never gives up on me. His hand is always there reaching out. One of the important lessons is that we are all on the same playing field. Jesus, our Coach, is watching His team very carefully and for the needs of His Kids.
Ps 40:4 “Blessed is the one who makes the Lord his trust.” I’m reaching out to grasp His hand. Will you join me?