My heart is longing for Advent season more this year than ever before. Maybe in part because of the unrest, division, pain, and confusion in our country. Maybe in part because the longer I live, the more suffering, tragedy, and heartache I've seen and experienced. And my heart cries out, "Come, Lord Jesus."
And he comes. He comes in an unexpected way.
"He slipped into our world through the back roads and outlying districts of one of the least important places on earth and has allowed his program for human history to unfold ever so slowly through the centuries.
He lived for thirty years among socially insignificant members of a negligible nation—though one with a rich tradition of divine covenant and interaction. He grew up in the home of the carpenter for the little Middle-Eastern village of Nazareth. After his father, Joseph, died, he became ‘the man of the house’ and helped his mother raise the rest of the family. He was an ordinary workman: a ‘blue-collar’ worker.
He did all this to be with us, to be one of us, …The obviously well kept secret of the “ordinary” is that it is made to be a receptacle of the divine, a place where the life of God flows." -Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
He was born be with us. Born to rescue us. Born to teach us. Born to save us. Born to die.
And then there was resurrection.
I am starting now to prepare my heart for celebrating the birth of Christ. I want to take extra time to reflect on what the coming of Jesus means to my life. I was reading Genesis 11 last week. In my Life With God Bible notes it says, "The wide-angle survey of creation in disarray turns to the narrow focus on a man named Abram, in a town called Ur, with a barren wife and no child. At this juncture the story appears to have reached a dead end, but, looking back, we know the creative power of God to bring life where there is seemingly no hope for the future."
God has proven in history to bring life where there seems to be no hope for the future. This is what the coming of Jesus means to my life. Those times when I appeared to have reached a dead end and I have lied face down on the floor, sobbing, alone, feeling like everyone and God had abandoned me, begging for the heartache to end. Yet, there was a part of my soul hanging on to a thread of hope. Hanging on to Jesus. I've often imagined myself grabbing the hem of his garment and clinging to it with everything I had left in me.
I listened to a discussion between John Ortberg and Dallas Willard and I wrote this down:
John: It strikes me that to be relaxed like Jesus lies on the other side of that crucifixion. And I want the relaxation. I'm not so sure I want the crucifixion.
Dallas: Well, I think as you come to understand it, you welcome the crucifixion as the great door of liberation because it takes you off your kingdom, you see. When the cross is on you, you're free.
You welcome the crucifixion as the great door of liberation. If I were younger I would say, "I can't even" to that thought. But I'm not. So I won't. I will say, I need to let that thought marinate. I think I need to put it on a few post-it notes and stick them around the house and keep that thought in front of my eyes during Advent season.
In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas writes, "So it is absolutely essential to our growth into the mind of Jesus that we accept the "trials" of ordinary existence as the place where we are to experience and find the reign of God-with-us as actual reality. We are not to try to get in a position to avoid trials. And we are not to "catastrophize" and declare the "end of the world" when things happen. We are to see every event as an occasion in which the competence and faithfulness of God will be confirmed to us. Thus we do know the concrete reality of the kingdom of the heavens."
Oh, God. May I seek your kingdom. I mean, really seek your kingdom. May I live a with-God life in the heartache and in the ways I relate with my husband, my children, my family and friends, in my community, and in the world. Forgive me for the times I don't.