December 1st marks the beginning of one my most favorite times of year: Advent. Advent is the special time we, as Christians, spend in devotion and prayer to prepare our hearts for Christmas’ greatest gift: God’s Son; Jesus; Immanuel, ‘God with us.’
In this time of year, it’s very easy to get caught up in the shopping and wrapping, the coming and going, the doing and making … and by the end of it, one can feel the holiday spirit has been completely drained from them. But in the midst of all the demands and things that clamor for our attention, Advent invites us to slow down, catch our breath, and be reminded of all that is good and true and beautiful in this blessed season. Because of this, I have come to greatly appreciate Advent as it keeps my mind focused and my heart centered on the heart of it all: God’s love and grace, come down to Earth; for you and for me; to make us whole, to give us joy, and to have real, everlasting peace, forever and ever and ever.
To be totally honest, the past several weeks have been some of the hardest I’ve endured this year. Things haven’t exactly been peaceful, but rather chaotic. For starters, it’s the busiest time of year for me at work, and as the Director, I’m pulled in several directions throughout the course of the day, making my list of ‘to dos’ longer by the week. In addition to this, my mother-in-law has been in the hospital for the past month following surgery, and her recovery has brought a roller-coaster of emotions as things have progressed and then regressed, progressed and then regressed again. I’ve also been battling severe tension headaches and anxiety that comes from the stress of feeling that there is so much to do, fix, and manage in such very little time. Frankly, it’s been exhausting and there have been days where I have just come home and gone straight to bed, feeling depleted from the weight of it all. While driving one day recently, I
yelled, “Really God? Isn’t it enough that I’m doing X, Y, and Z? Don’t you see I’m busy enough as it is? Why are You now adding THIS to my plate? Ugh!”
Anyone else ever had a season like this? It’s a lot, isn’t it? Sometimes it just feels like too much.
You know the saying, “God never gives us more that we can handle?” Well, here’s a little something I’ve been learning in the craziness of life … He does give us more than we can handle.
Wait. What? I know, I know … the realization is stunning.
All the things that get added to our days and weeks, the messes and stresses of our lives – they are too much for us to handle. And that’s why He is necessary. That’s why He came. If we could handle it all on our own, why would we need Him? He’s a God of intimacy and relationship, not some far off creature hovering above the universe doling out lightning bolts and crappy situations to us, and then just sitting back and watching to see how we ‘handle it all.’ No. He’s far better than we’ve made Him out to be. He gives us more than we can handle as an invitation to seek Him and His life-giving rest and refreshment in the midst of it all.
And that, my friends, is what Advent is all about. It’s about preparing our minds, hearts, and souls for His presence in this crazy, messy, beautiful thing called life. It’s about inviting Him into our days, whether they’re perfect or ridiculous, and casting our cares on Him so that He can work out all things for His good, and use us to show His glory to the world that so desperately needs Him and His Good News. It’s about making room for Him to do more than we could ever imagine in our wildest dreams (Ephesians 3:20), especially in those things that seem impossible and too far out of reach, “for nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).” It’s about coming to know His goodness and faithfulness, and being forever changed by Him.
As I’ve made this realization, it’s opened my eyes to see Him in the middle of the challenges I’ve been dealt. It’s allowed me to see Him at work, where I didn’t think He was paying attention. It’s given me hope that this is all going to pass, and that no matter what the outcome of it all is, He’s got this. He’s got the whole world in His hands and He’s taking care of everything, down to the last detail.
So with this revelation, comes humility and surrender, as Advent approaches. Starting on Monday, I’ll set aside time each day to work through this Advent devotional, and reflect and pray through Scriptures that will speak to me about who He is, calling me to be in a deeper, more real and authentic relationship with Him than I ever have before.
Advent is exactly what this girl needs, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one. May we find in these days and weeks leading up to Christmas, opportunities to be reminded that we are not alone, that He is in fact with us, and that it’s okay to need Him and let Him take care of us. Speaking from recent experience, believing in and practicing this has made all of the difference. He is good. And He is invites us to “come and behold Him.” So let’s take Him up on it, friends. Let’s be blown away by His amazing love and grace this holiday season.
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