Sunday, December 23, 2007

Advent Learnings

With the end of Advent looming, I thought I might post some of my learnings while on my blogging break--while the season is still right!

--One big thing I learned is that I love blogging. I missed it. What a pleasant diversion it is to put my thoughts down on paper (virtually), on a regular basis.

--Without the outlet and the distraction of writing, I found I was “worried and anxious about many things” (like Martha in the Bible). A lot of my break was spent in prayer for many things that are not right—in me, in my kids, in our family, in the world.

--As I read the prescribed Scripture readings, with their emphasis on preparation for Christ’s return, I asked myself many questions. The parable of the sheep and the goats especially spoke to me. When have I seen Christ naked, hungry, thirsty, in prison, and not helped Him? Suburbia insulates me and my family in a dangerous way.

--As I repented from sinful patterns in my life, I was dismayed by how difficult it is to change. Nothing new there, but it bothered me a lot. As I prayed about it, I felt like God was telling me simply to wait. Advent is a time of waiting for the coming of Christ, for the fulfillment of God's plans. It’s about preparing our hearts and making room for Him, and I felt a permission to stop striving, to be quiet, to worry less about making time for meditation and prayer and just to pray more as I went about my responsibilities.

--As I did, God helped me see some practical changes to make in our homeschooling routine which are going to help a lot, I think. (That’ll be a separate post soon.) I am so grateful for the way He gave insight and ideas where I had had nothing but anxiety and frustration. In a very tangible way, it seemed like light bursting into my darkness.

Overall, I felt a certain darkness or melancholy in my spirit that I usually do not experience. Part of it was frustration with my kids and our homeschooling. But another part I identified was simply sadness that we are not moved to Wisconsin yet. Back when we began packing up extra belongings last April, I felt so sure that we’d be moved by Christmas at the latest—and here we are, looking at each other and wondering if we dare say, “Surely by next Christmas??” We feel such a strong sense of calling and rightness about the church and our move there; we are so eager to leave this limbo stage and begin to fully invest in relationships and in ministry there. It makes one ask: Why? And the not knowing is hard.

The living in limbo is hard too. I am tired of wishing for books and other belongings that are packed away in who-knows-which box in our garage. I am tired of unpacking boxes, that I so carefully packed once before, for items we miss and need. I am tired of worrying about smudge marks and worse on doors and walls just painted last spring. I am tired of living with uncertainty.

So I’ve been thinking about Mary. Mary didn’t have the advantage we do, of seeing how her miraculous conception and pregnancy fit in to God’s huge plan. She surely had little to no idea of what God was doing through her; if anything, she probably had the wrong impression, like any other Jew living in that era, of who the Messiah was. Like me, she had practical considerations—a baby to prepare for!—and then she had to go on a long, inconveniently- timed donkey ride—right around her due date? It didn’t make sense.

But in God’s plan, it had to be that way. In hindsight, the fulfillment of prophecy was brilliantly, masterfully executed. God knew what He was doing when He chose a girl who wouldn’t insist on understanding and practical considerations. She was willing to obey, to submit, to trust, to wait in the midst of uncertainty—and the fruit of her waiting was Christ Himself.

So she’s my model. I don’t know God's plan or how I fit into it, but I trust that He does. I will wait--in darkness, in mystery, in longing--for the Light of Christ to come.


Linds said...

A beautiful post, Jeanne. I can so identify with the part about Mary, and the fact that God chose a girl who did not challenge or need to know the whys and whats. At our service last night, this was part of the theme too, and you have just reinforced it for me.It is all about surrender and trust, isn't it?
Have a happy and blessed Christmas! His plans are always best!

Anonymous said...

I've missed your (virtual)pen on paper as well. How good to have a sense of the things that God wants to give you-- change-- in this new year. I'll pray for your eyes to see the fruit of these prayers.
Merry Christmas,