Breathing Advent: An Advent Devotional – Day Six

O Lord, how long will You forget me?
Forever?

How long will You look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
With sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die . . .
But I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because You have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.
(from Psalm 13)

It’s human to struggle. To feel forgotten by God. To encounter trial after trial and be tempted to think the enemy will somehow always have the upper hand in our lives.

It is natural to look to the past and mourn over the ruins left behind, but it takes spiritual eyes to look to the future with hope. To trust that beauty will somehow arise from the ashes. To remember that Father has not forgotten us.

Where do you look when regrets loom large and redemption seems so very far away? Do you look to your own strengths and try to muscle through the devastation, or do you lift your eyes to seek the help of His countenance? Do you continue to wait for Him to notice you, or do you cling to the realization that He already has and that He is doing something beautiful in this very moment?

No matter what it is you are waiting for, I invite you to take it to Father. To empty your heart before Him, spilling out the ugly, the marred, the broken and hopeless. He will meet you there, beloved. The manger tucked into the recesses of little Bethlehem proves He comes in our darkest moments with deliverance and freedom in His hands. I pray you will travel the path to His incarnation and revisit His presence alongside shepherds and angels. May you join them in experiencing the power and glory of His presence come to save, as you invite the Light of the world to restore the sparkle to your eyes.

He is good, and He has come for you.

waiting
holding out for holy
hoping for the Light of the World
to show up in this darkness
counting down the days to the promised deliverance
gratefully grasping for the gift of God’s presence
trusting it will arrive just in time
to offer the way of salvation
in the midst of this wayward world
gasping for a breath of the Divine
longing for a birth of life to come in these moments
to bridge the gap of here and now with infinite eternal
to hope for His coming in the messiness of manger life
to know His love among the muck and mire
of this sin-soaked dwelling
wishing to be rich enough to offer a five-star hotel
but humbled and grateful that He comes to this stable
content to appear in stubble and dung
‘tho He deserves all pristine and glorious
pondering this starlit night of death and life
warring for the souls of mankind
i lift my eyes to the hills where angels descend to bring
glad tidings of great joy that will be for all people
and i marvel to be chosen as one of the all
breathing in this fearsome glory
i set my feet upon timeworn path
following shepherds’ footprints to stable of old
only to find it is my own heart to which i am led
with cadence of drummer boy’s heartbeat
i join in angels’ song
kneeling in awe and wonder
breathing deeply the scent of straw and sweat
and dawning of freedom
birthed with Salvation’s cry
i warm myself near Advent’s glow

FOR REFLECTION
How do you respond to the hards of life? Are you tempted to feel as though God has forgotten you? Jesus invites you to bring your concerns to Him. He is aware of every struggle you are facing, and He wants to bear the load for you. He knows the longing of waiting for your deliverance, dear one –  He has had His share in it from the other side. When Jesus was released to enter earth’s domain, it was with great anticipation of the coming reunion with His beloved. With you.
May you rejoice over your rescue from sin’s domain, and sing a song of praise to the One who has been good to you. I mean it. Literally. At some point today, sing a song of praise to the Lord, whether it is in the quiet of your car on the way home from work or while you’re preparing dinner this evening, Belt out a song of worship to the One who is worthy and has sacrificed His all to make you His own.

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The Space In Between

What happens in the void of waiting?

This space in between the trial and the victory?

These moments of unknowns and not yets and hoped fors?

Often, this is where the struggle seems most real. More real than the adrenaline-pumped throes of battle when sword is in mid-swing to strike against a foe. More real than the victory shout of routing the enemy and occupying territory long desired.

This space in between is where hearts are either confirmed in convictions or destabilized by the questions filling these moments of silent waiting.

The struggle lies in the stillness.

In the calm before the storm where we grapple with extremes – of either good or bad, victory or defeat, relief or devastation.

This is where the wrestling of my spirit is most agonizing. Caught between the what was and what will be — here in this moment of waiting for the dawn of resurrection.

Is it any wonder the world scoffs at hope? Shakes its head at the fantasy of joy and anticipation for a life that is anything other than what it has always known?

Just another day. Another typical, ordinary, common day. Another Messiah come to declare His place as the long-awaited consolation and hope of a nation at odds with the world in which it’s living. Of a people not belonging, yet desiring to belong.

The beloved aching to be loved.

These moments in which the majority of life is lived out seem all too mundane. Monotonous ticking of seconds turned to minutes turned to days, then weeks, then months, then years until we’re almost tricked into thinking there will be no coming dawn. Just the sameness of these twilight hours.

Forever waiting in this void of wondering what’s left to hope for.

Until… the crack of light seeps slowly across the horizon. So subtle in its approach that untrained eyes will not notice the gradual shifting of shadows surrendering to its glow. So slow in coming that unprepared slumberers may miss out on it altogether. Those who refuse to look for light will be deceived into closing eyes against its unveiled brilliance, thinking all is but a dream.

But for those willing to anticipate through the silence and the empty, these are the ones who will be roused from stupor with divine awakening of heaven’s Champion.

While the world slumbers on, tuned hearts will hear the growing roar of tomb door’s rolling as death’s grip slackens, cut free from stifling hearts with its finality. Ever. Again.

Can you hear it, my friend?

In this space of solitary confinement when the world would have you numb to hope, can you hear the stirring of heaven’s gracious whispers through the silence?

Can you feel the gentle brush of angel wings in flight, hastening to greet you in your quest for a Savior come to overcome?

He is there to meet you with the hope of Easter dawning, breaking through the stillness for once and for forever. Nail-scarred hands extended, reaching for one and for all who will rise to see Him coming.

Here in this moment of joy unspeakable and full of glory, He cannot be contained.

Hope cannot be denied.

Mercy cannot help but have its way as this space in between gives way to His place in this space of souls He has come to save.

Lift up your head, dear one, and wait no longer. Your redemption is here.

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Breathing Advent

waiting
holding out for holy
hoping for the Light of the World
to show up in this darkness
counting down the days to the promised deliverance
gratefully grasping for the gift of God’s presence
trusting it will arrive just in time
to offer the way of salvation
in the midst of this wayward world

gasping for a breath of the Divine
longing for a birth of life to come in these moments
to bridge the gap of here and now with infinite eternal
to hope for His coming in the messiness of manger life
to know His love among the muck and mire
of this sin-soaked dwelling
wishing to be rich enough to offer a five-star hotel
but humbled and grateful that He comes to this stable
content to appear in stubble and dung
‘tho He deserves all pristine and glorious

pondering this starlit night of death and life
warring for the souls of mankind
i lift my eyes to the hills where angels descend to bring
glad tidings of great joy that will be for all people
and i marvel to be chosen as one of the all
breathing in this fearsome glory
i set my feet upon timeworn path
following shepherds’ footprints to stable of old
only to find it is my own heart to which i am led

with cadence of drummer boy’s heartbeat
i join in angels’ song
kneeling in awe and wonder
breathing deeply the scent of straw and sweat
and dawning of freedom
birthed with Salvation’s cry
i warm myself near Advent’s glow

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The Strength of Waiting

Sometimes our very inactivity shows the greatest amount of strength.

Soul-pierced.

Distanced from our dreams by disappointment. Held hostage by this seeming hopelessness. Parted from our purpose by this present pain.

Frustrated by this restlessness for something when we feel called to nothing.

Waiting is hard.

Resting can be the most challenging of work-outs when we are used to filling our time with activity and service.

If you are currently in or have ever been in a time of “waiting,” you well know how difficult a task it can be. It’s hard to stop a forward thrust of motion and refrain from filling our time with the simple act of doing something. Even when we know God is the One calling us to this time of rest – to this time of waiting.

We wait for His glory to appear — here — in this mess of confusion and doubt. Are we really called to content ourselves “outside the loop” of ministry? Has God really brought us to this season of rest, or are we missing His voice? What can possibly be the benefit of doing nothing when it’s obvious there are so many things needing to be done? So many opportunities for us to use the gifts He has given? The wrestling ensues as we try to make sense of it all.

But waiting is meant to be so much more than simply wasting away our days. Waiting on God can be a time of building our confidence in His character — leaning forward toward His presence in order to readily grasp what is being offered. Waiting is a call to stand in covenant with the promises we believe, the things we know to be true. Tarrying in trust. Lingering in love. Abiding in His rest while waiting for His words to either move on or nestle within our hearts.

Waiting calls us to be present in this moment, even when we may be wishing for another.

Consider the company of the following saints who were found waiting:

– Moses waited forty years before returning to Egypt as the deliverer of God’s people.

 Joshua lingered his way into leadership by staying near the tabernacle long after the rest had departed.

– Caleb waited with a warrior’s heart for forty years before taking possession of the land he had been promised.

 Simeon was waiting for the Consolation of Israel, filled with the Holy Spirit long before his arms were filled with the Savior’s earthly form.

– Widowed and worshiping, Anna waited in the temple. Praying and prophesying, she looked Redemption full in the face and spoke to all of the Deliverer.

The disciples waited according to the Lord’s directives and were met by Holy Ghost fire sweeping through the upper room and their lives, carrying the Good News into the streets of Jerusalem, to Judea, into the borders of Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

If you are presently in a God-induced holding pattern, consider yourself in good company. Press into this time of rest instead of warring against it. Listen for His words, yes, but continue to trust in His character even when your ears meet silence.

And remember, as you wait for Him… He waits for you.

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