Outside, the falling rain hits the roof in varying degrees of intensity as the wind whips the bare trees. The golden leaves of a few weeks ago no longer remain. Today’s weather feels like quintessential late fall. Winter is just around the corner.
I don’t know about your November, but mine has been a whirlwind. Earlier this month, I wrapped up another coaching season, which included travel to upstate New York for the State cross country meet several weekends ago. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, Brad, Anna, and I left for several days of college visits before continuing onto Nashville to celebrate Thanksgiving with extended family. Arriving home this past Sunday after a day and a half of travel, I felt less than prepared to usher in Advent–a season I look forward to each year. Mentally, my mind was ticking off “to do” lists even as my heart told me to slow down, relax, take a deep breath.
Where do you find yourself this Advent season?
Already my calendar is filling with commitments and plans. I don’t want the next four weeks to be a blur. I want time to pause, to reflect, to think, to pray, to properly prepare for Christmas.
Is that even possible?
Reading through some of my previous posts about Advent, I came across one I wrote several years ago. I’ve tweaked it a bit to include here. The Scripture passage is one of my favorite Old Testament passages to read during Advent.
If you at all think Advent is warm-fuzzies and good cheer, think again. I have been struck this year by the misery, the yearning, the suffering that God entered into when he sent his Son to earth as a baby. His people weren’t a perfect lot and still aren’t! But God entered that messiness because of his love for me—for the world. I can type those words more easily than I can fathom them. As I read Scripture, I come face-to-face with my own brokenness and disappointments.
In Isaiah 40, I find a mixture of comfort, prophecy, as well as a reality check. Verse 1 begins by Isaiah telling the people of Israel, “Comfort, Comfort my people says your God,” which is a reminder that God does care about the well-being of his people. Dare I say it? No matter who is President of the United States.
In verse 3, there is a prophetic reference to John the Baptist and eventually the Messiah—“a voice of one calling: In the desert prepare the way for the Lord.” What does it look like to “prepare the way for the Lord” in my everyday life? This is one part of the verse I want to think and reflect on over the next several weeks.
And then in verses 6-8 a reminder of how limited humankind really is, “all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall.” Just this morning, while listening to NPR, I heard of a freak accident that killed a local man who was cutting down a tree in a park as part of his job. I don’t know if he was married or had children, but how awful for that man’s family. That morning he left for work like he always did.
The passage ends with a beautiful image of God acting like our shepherd as he “tends his flock and gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.” Each of us enters this Advent season with joys and burdens. This passage reflects the mixed nature that is so often a reality of life. There will be times of peace, times of pain, times of joy, and times of suffering. Yet God has made clear, through the Incarnation, that he has chosen “to dwell among us.”
With hope and anticipation this Advent season…