December 1st . . . . . . and not nearly enough days before Christmas to do everything on your schedule! Every year is the same, especially if children are still at home; the calendar leading up to Christmas is crazy full; children’s Christmas programs and class events to attend; Christmas parties and gatherings in your home or others’; Church services and Advent choir presentations, family coming to you or you going to them; Christmas shopping to finish; Christmas cards and letters to send out; and so many other things to add to it all. Whew!
Job’s revelation about God above came after all was said and done concerning the trial that shook his life to the core. It speaks volumes, unfortunately, in describing the story of many a common Advent season; Christmas holidays following one year upon another. In this season we HEAR much about God, and His Son, from carols playing everywhere to the retelling of the familiar nativity story; singing Silent Night by candlelight in many a Christmas service; and going through all the traditional motions of “celebrating the most important birth in human history. Yet our eye too frequently doesn’t SEE Him as Job came to see Him following his intense wrestling with God in his deep “valley of the shadow of death. The atmosphere, the schedule, the “rush distracts our attention from the all-important truths of Advent, and hence from seeing Him as He wants us to see Him. Yes, we do hear about Him with our ears, but our eyes do not pierce the clutter to see Him to the end that our joy holds true, and will not fade when the “rush recedes and January comes.
It is not that we should give it all up, escape town, and ignore our Christmas/Advent family traditions. There is much that is good in what we do here with good intentions. The failure is that we do not carve out personal time and protect it to sharpen our Advent sight; eyes that look back with eager searching to the nativity, the cross, and the resurrection and forward to the “blessed hope of the Second Advent. This is the message with which Paul exhorted Titus (2:11-14): “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting (that is, looking with Advent eyes) for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. While Jesus’ faithful disciples saw magnificent things done and spoken by Him while He was with them, He told them they would see greater things than even these. (John 1:50) But eyes with an ever sharpening vision is not a given for believers simply because they are believers. Job was a believer in Job 1, indeed a very disciplined and devout believer, yet it wasn’t until the last chapter of his book that his spiritual vision is awakened, giving him a perspective on an all new level. Such “seeing only arises out of time alone with God, in His Word, in prayer, and in soul-ful meditation. If you do this you will follow a pattern Jesus set in the midst of an all-consuming public ministry schedule.
Perhaps there is no more demanding time of the year for you to forcefully (what it requires!) carve out time alone with God to focus on the meaning of the Advent (1st and 2nd) in your life that you might gain and nurture an ever more intimate, personal life with your great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. A test such as this reaps rewards not only for a meaningful Advent now, but as a pattern for the whole year ahead! In doing this all else will be enriched in your Advent season; and there is good promise that what you bring from your Advent eyes to those around you will penetrate their perspective as well. Advent 2011 is here. Don’t just HEAR about God and His Son this year; SEE Him!
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