advent

Our expectations usually land somewhere in between our hope and the reality of our past experience. Past disappointments can diminish our expectations. We can be so focused on our expectations that we miss God. That’s why we need Advent.

 Luke 1:5-25 Zechariah tells the story of God interrupting the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They are both “well along in years”. He had been a priest for decades. He may have given up hope of ever serving in the Holy of Holies, but one day, unexpectedly, he was chosen as the priest who would go to burn incense in the Holy of Holies. He no doubt expected to be awed by the beauty and the deep meaning of the moment. He undoubtedly prepared a beautiful blessing to be given to the crowds outside, waiting for him to finish.

 Elizabeth spent decades hoping to get pregnant. In a culture that saw barrenness as a curse from God, she undoubtedly begged God year after year for a baby. But her wrinkles replaced her hope, and she no doubt gave up hope of having a family.

 God miraculously interrupted the expectations of both of them with what they did not expect. Zechariah went into the Holy of Holies to serve God; it never occurred to him that God would actually meet him there. Elizabeth assumed that if God didn’t honor her prayers on her time table, that God didn’t honor her prayers. Both underestimated the God who exceeds the expectations of His people.

 Zechariah’s doubt at the power of God to give him a son left him speechless (literally!) and postponed that prepared blessing until after the birth of John (Luke 1:67-79). We don’t know how Elizabeth received the news, but I have to believe that the pantomime when Zechariah got home was hilarious.

 Advent is the season of the Christian calendar where we “wait” for the coming of God into our world. We don’t like to wait. We try to fill the time with activity and tasks. Too many spend Advent frustrated with long lines, endless chores, traffic jams, and schedules that are too full. We will spend too much money on presents and decorations that will be momentarily appreciated and quickly forgotten. New Year’s Day will find us unchanged by the celebration of Christmas.

 I’ve always believed that I can nearly always find what I’m looking for. Looking for trouble or looking for blessing will give me a much greater chance of finding them. What are you looking for this Christmas? Are you so focused on your to do list that you will miss the presence of God? Does the mundane consume so much of your attention that the holy moments pass you by, unnoticed? Do you eagerly anticipate God’s presence? Do you expect that He will bless you and bring you joy? Are you planning for his answers to your prayers and expecting Him to do something new in your life?

 Hoping that God will interrupt your life to bring your good and His glory is very different from expecting that He will. Begin each day of Advent expecting God to interrupt your schedule. Look for His fingerprints on the events and circumstances on your day. Anticipate a new perspective on His plan for your life. Watch for Him to delight you with His presence and praise Him when He does.

 

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