Confession 358: Anticipation

He [John] will go forth before the Lord, equipped with the sprit and power of Elijah.  He will turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and he will turn the disobedient to righteous patterns of thinking.  He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  Luke 1: 17 (CEB)

Several months ago, my boys had their first overnight with a friend.  They waited in eager anticipation for the arrival of their guest–standing at the door a full twenty minutes before the expected entrance to make sure he would get a warm welcome.  Games were laid out, toys carefully chosen, activities planned and sleeping arrangements determined well in advance.  In their excitement about this most special occasion, the boys weren’t just ready–they were completely and abundantly prepared.

Anticipation is a word that conveys an eager expectation of something.  Generally, it is positive.  There is something good that is coming up and we are excited about it.

Advent is a season of anticipation. We eagerly prepare our houses for the coming of Christmas–decorating trees, hanging stockings, stringing lights, baking sweets, and wrapping gifts.  Like my boys, we completely and abundantly prepare for the arrival of family and friends.  But I wonder, in our sometimes manic preparations for Christmas Day, do we miss what should be the most anticipated event of all?

Are we really waiting in eager anticipation of the coming of Christ?  Are we completely and abundantly preparing our hearts for a renewed encounter with the King?  For this is what the gift of Advent truly is–an opportunity for us to prepare for a visit with God our Creator.

Advent isn’t a season of passively waiting.  Like John the Baptist, we must be working to prepare the way for the coming of the King.  John lived in anticipation of the coming of Christ by making ready a people prepared for the Lord.  The people of Israel weren’t prepared for Christ.  They didn’t understand how far they had fallen from God.  Their hearts weren’t open to Christ’s message of love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.  They needed time to prepare for Christ’s coming; time to repent, time to listen, time to grow.

When we truly practice Advent, we must actively make ready our hearts for the coming of the Lord.  We, too, must repent.  We must listen.  We must grow.  Our focus must be fixed firmly on God–reading his word, singing his praises, ministering to those in need.  We must approach this season with anticipation, fully expecting to have an encounter with the risen Lord.

Over the next few weeks, I would encourage you to spend some time in anticipation.  Make ready your heart for the Lord.  And watch for him.  He often shows up in the most unexpected places.

Blessings and Peace,

Sara

Light in the Darkness Day 1: God Moves Beyond Us

As I have been working on lots of IRL projects lately, my blog has fallen a bit (TON) behind.  I am reposting my Advent series from last year.  I LOVE the book of Isaiah–there is so much beauty and hope to be found in his words.  Please join me as we prepare, once again, to welcome our Savior into the world.

Blessings and Peace,

Sara

 

Welcome to my new Advent series, Light in the Darkness: An Advent Study on the Book of Isaiah.  I have to tell you, I have always been drawn to the book of Isaiah.  I especially like the poetic sections.  The author (or authors) have a way of painting our Almighty God with words that fill me with awe and wonder and an incredible peace and unshakable hope.  When my soul needs a boost, I often turn to Isaiah.

But Isaiah is not all about feeling good.  The prophet speaks harsh words of truth in love to a people who have unabashedly turned from the One who called them and rescued them and formed them into His own.  The God of Isaiah is full of righteous anger directed at the people of Israel.  Through the kings of Assyria and Babylon, God will strip the people of all they have.  God will remove them from the seat of His Glory, exiling them as slaves once again.

candle 2

The book of Isaiah is the story of humanity in one of its most dramatic forms.  God creates His people and builds for them a perfect world.  And yet, His people rebel against the One who loves them, who fights for them, who sustains them.  Lured by the false gods of this world, the people turn their backs on God, and the consequences of their rebellion result in utter devastation.  The world they have known collapses around them.  There is no one to save them anymore.  They are torn away from their homeland, forced into servitude in a land far away.  Their cries for help, for mercy, seem to go unheard.  But then, God acts.  With amazing and abundant love God reaches out to save His people.  He rescues them from captivity.  He redeems them and restores them to His glory.

And He makes a promise.  One day, God will dwell with His people.  One day, His justice and righteousness will become a beacon which guides all humanity.  One day, God’s Kingdom will be restored, and all people will live in the light of His glory.  A Savior is coming.

The people of Isaiah’s time had no idea who the Messiah was or when and where he would come.  It was a promise they never saw fulfilled.  They might have understood Isaiah’s promises in a completely different context.  To an extent, those promises were fulfilled in their time.  God saved them.  God redeemed them.  God restored them.  God sent messengers and deliverers to dwell among them.  The triumphant return from Babylon may have been seen as the closure to the message of the prophet Isaiah so many years before.  But looking back across time, it was only the beginning.  God’s ultimate deliverance was still to come.

God had a much greater plan.  God’s plan stretched beyond the people of ancient Israel–sweeping far beyond the reaches of their understood land and time.  God’s plan for His creation unfolded thousands of years later in a tiny rural town in a tiny country.  And His plan is still unfolding in ways we cannot see or imagine.

God is not done yet.  And although we cannot see or understand the grand architectural design it doesn’t mean that God is not moving beyond us.  God is generations ahead of where we are, putting things in place to unfold hundreds or thousands of years from now.

“Comfort, oh Comfort my people…” Isaiah says.  God is not done with you yet.  “Prepare the way for the Lord!” (Isaiah 40:1-3)

God is not done with you yet.  As you prepare to receive the gift of the Savior once again, I would love for you to join me as we look to the past to understand our present and to glimpse the wonderful Glory that is in our future.

Here is a breakdown of the next 24 days:

Each day there will be a bit of Scripture from the book of Isaiah on which to meditate.  Sometimes I will provide commentary.  But other times I will leave the commentary to the Holy Spirit!  Each of the 4 weeks of Advent have been given an overarching topic for reflection and contemplation.  I like to call them the 4 R’s of HIS-story.

Week 1: Rebellion

Week 2: Rescue

Week 3: Redemption

Week 4: Restoration

Thanks for joining me today.  I pray that the Holy Spirit may use this to bless you this Advent season.

Blessings and Peace,

Sara