A Season of Waiting

Winter is a season when the whole earth is in a waiting period. The grapes have been harvested and the vines are bare. The almond trees are void of leaves and buds. The summer wheat has been baled and stored in the barns. It is as if the world is asleep waiting to be awakened in spring.

Winter is a time of waiting for us as well. Children await the arrival of Christmas day and the promise of gifts galore. Adults anticipate time with family and friends, warmed by the joy of Christmas.

Waiting is something we do not do well in the 21st century. We are used to getting what we want as soon as we want it. We can get in touch with people instantly through email, cell phone, and text messaging. We feel that by waiting we are wasting time and being unproductive.

God is in the waiting business. His waiting is an active waiting not passive. The earth externally appears to be dormant, but internally it is being revitalized and reborn. Like His creation in winter which patiently, eagerly waits for the warmth and new life of spring, we wait for God to do His work in us. But this waiting takes patience.The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means “to suffer.” Waiting often feels like suffering to us, but it means to suffer through the present moment, in order to experience the joy and fulfillment of the future.

Winter is the perfect time for Advent, a time of waiting in expectation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Messiah. With awe and wonder we wait for His arrival with great longing. We marvel at the mystery of the incarnation; God becoming man in a baby. The miracle of the incarnation made possible the miracle of salvation.

Yet we should also marvel at how God could love us so much that He would leave His heavenly throne to become like us. The miracle of Christmas is not just that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” but that God chose to love us at all. The ancient scholar Irenaeus wrote, “The word of God, Jesus Christ, on account of his great love for mankind, became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”

Advent is also a time to reflect on the promise of Jesus’ second coming as well. Hebrews says Jesus “will appear a second time…to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” This waiting actively anticipates the return of Christ. As believers we are to wait with expectation. Just as our children wait for the good gifts their parents give them, we eagerly await the good gifts God has for us at His return. While we wait we are to be busy preparing the fertile soil of our hearts for His return. We are to be sowing seeds of the Gospel message in the hearts of others. We are to be busy in our waiting.

God beckons us to a place of stillness, quiet, and reflection during the Christmas season, for it is in the stillness that we most clearly see His presence and hear His voice. May you experience the intimate, amazing love and overwhelming grace of our Heavenly Father through the celebration of the birth of his Son, Jesus, this Advent season.

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Window Shopping

I love living on the Westside of Paso Robles. With the renovation of the downtown area, Paso has been able to keep the small town atmosphere alive and well on the Westside. This is a great time of the year to stroll along the streets of downtown. The shopkeepers are all busy decorating their store fronts for the holidays. I love window shopping at the furniture and decorator stores. The displays of their living areas are warm and inviting. The rooms are always accessorized perfectly. There is never anything out of place. As I gaze longing into the windows, I imagine myself sitting on one of the cozy sofas with a cup of coffee and having a long chat with a dear friend.

It is entertaining to imagine living in that perfect room in the window, but reality soon creeps in. I live on the other side of the window in a world where life is not perfect, where my living room is not accessorized perfectly. Dirty cups reside on the table and stray socks hide under the sofa.

So it is with our spiritual lives. My heart longs to live in a perfect world with a perfect family, perfect friends, and a perfect church. I desire to be a perfect wife, mother and friend. But I am a sinner living in a world marred by sin where perfection is an illusion. I am thankful that my family and friends love me enough to forgive me of my sin and imperfections. I am thankful that my Heavenly Father uses this imperfect world to refine me and smooth out my rough edges. I am thankful that Jesus challenges me to live out the Sermon on the Mount, causing me to struggle with the same questions; “who is my neighbor; how many times must I forgive; what does it mean to be light to the world?”

My heart also longs for God. David cried out in Psalm 63, “My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” David could not quench his thirst for God. Often I try to fill my hunger for God with other things, other enticements, but they never satisfy. They are only temporary distractions. Perhaps our longing for God is not meant to be satisfied until we reach heaven. The prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 26:8, “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.”

C.S. Lewis said in his book, The Weight of Glory

“At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”
We are on the outside of the world, strangers in a strange land. But it will not also be so. Jesus promised the disciples and us in John 14 that someday we would dwell with Him in our Father’s house. I long for the day when I shall get IN, when I can mingle with the splendor. When that day arrives, I will no longer be on the outside of the window looking in. I will be sitting on a cozy sofa having a long chat with a Dear Friend.

God’s Amazing Gift

The incarnation—a miracle of God planned from the beginning of time. God knew His creation, man, whom He had lovingly sculptured in His own image, would fall. But God loves man and so He made a way to redeem him. Man’s spiritual death would be redeemed by a birth- the birth of God Himself to a lowly, young woman. The incorruptible God entered the world through a corruptible woman.
He could have come as a man, fully grown, ready to start His ministry. But God chose instead to leave His heavenly world, spend 9 months in the body of a woman, make the arduous, messy journey out of the woman’s womb, through the birth canal and into a sinful world. He took the form of a newborn baby, the most helpless of all humans, and at that moment in time, hope entered the world and His name was Jesus. He chose as His vehicle a young Jewish girl, Mary, called “highly favored one” by an angel who visits her. She was, as T.S. Eliot says, “the place of impossible union where past and future are conquered and reconciled in incarnation.” Mary is the one constant is Jesus’ life. She brought Him into the world and watched as death took Him from this world. This “most favored woman” does not question God but presented herself as God’s servant and said “let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) Her faith was simple yet deep. Perhaps she remembered the many Old Testament scriptures that prophesied the Messiah’s birth. God had been in fact preparing the world for His arrival since before the world was created. The entire Old Testament is the story of a special preparation.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:9 2

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2

“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” Jeremiah 23:5

The miracle of the incarnation made possible the miracle of salvation. We marvel at how God, the creator of the universe, could become man. Yet we should also marvel at how God could love us so much that He would leave His heavenly throne to become like us. The miracle of Christmas is not just that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” but that God chose to love us at all. The ancient scholar Irenaeus wrote, “The word of God, Jesus Christ, on account of his great love for mankind, became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”

Take time this Christmas season to ponder, wonder, contemplate and reflect on this great love!
“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has given, shown, bestowed on, us, that we should be permitted to be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!”
I John 3:1 (Amplified Bible).

God’s Amazing Gift

The incarnation—a miracle of God planned from the beginning of time. God knew His creation, man, whom He had lovingly sculptured in His own image, would fall. But God loves man and so He made a way to redeem him. Man’s spiritual death would be redeemed by a birth- the birth of God Himself to a lowly, young woman. The incorruptible God entered the world through a corruptible woman.

He could have come as a man, fully grown, ready to start His ministry. But God chose instead to leave His heavenly world, spend 9 months in the body of a woman, make the arduous, messy journey out of the woman’s womb, through the birth canal and into a sinful world. He took the form of a newborn baby, the most helpless of all humans, and at that moment in time, hope entered the world and His name was Jesus.

He chose as His vehicle a young Jewish girl, Mary, called “highly favored one” by an angel who visits her. She was, as T.S. Eliot says, “the place of impossible union where past and future are conquered and reconciled in incarnation.” Mary is the one constant is Jesus’ life. She brought Him into the world and watched as death took Him from this world. This “most favored woman” does not question God but presented herself as God’s servant and said “let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) Her faith was simple yet deep. Perhaps she remembered the many Old Testament scriptures that prophesied the Messiah’s birth. God had been in fact preparing the world for His arrival since before the world was created. The entire Old Testament is the story of a special preparation.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:9 2

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2

“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” Jeremiah 23:5

The miracle of the incarnation made possible the miracle of salvation. We marvel at how God, the creator of the universe, could become man. Yet we should also marvel at how God could love us so much that He would leave His heavenly throne to become like us. The miracle of Christmas is not just that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” but that God chose to love us at all. The ancient scholar Irenaeus wrote, “The word of God, Jesus Christ, on account of his great love for mankind, became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”

Take time this Christmas season to ponder, wonder, contemplate and reflect on this great love!

“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has given, shown, bestowed on, us, that we should be permitted to be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!” I John 3:1 (Amplified Bible).

The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before…What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s back fade in the distance. So stay. Sit linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon. Jan Richardson, Night Visions