About a month ago, I wrote a post asking you to share what are your holiday stresses. Thank you for commenting! In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some thoughts, inspired by the comments that were posted — in a running series, Holiday Sharing.
For today’s first holiday sharing, I reflected on how we might respond when we face the unknown.
Stores have been decked out with holiday decorations, heralding the crazed holiday shopping season. Christmas cheer starts knocking on our doors, leaving us Evites to winter festivities and charitable activities.
It’s hard to keep calm among all the marketing blasting us. Everything seems to herald the call to action: Go here! Do this! Buy that! There is so much to do in preparation for the most, wonderful time of the year (C’mon, sing with me!…), it’s hard not to get the shakes just thinking about it.
As believers, however, we have a completely opposite journey to take spiritually. The call of Advent beckons us to enter into a time of waiting.
A Time of Waiting
Yep. It’s Advent– the season to prepare our inward selves for the outward celebration of Christ, which we call Christmas.
The first of four Advent candles invites us to make room for Jesus’ coming and points us to Hope.
Hope is tough to light inwardly if we are placing so much hope on the externals. Until we bump into the Unknown.
The Unknowns force us to wait. They are the problems that can’t be solved, so big that we can’t even out think them and so unwieldy, we have to keep a running tab on the complexities daily.
For some of us, the Christmas experience itself is an unknown. It’s a time that’s happily anticipated, but I am sometimes overwhelmed. Am I doing the “right” things to make it special? My hopes of having a meaningful Christmas somehow create more stress than peace.
Others of us are facing big events in our lives. Dealing with family conflict, facing a financial crises or selling a house mark big profound changes that force us to adjust. We try to make plans and wise decisions, but we aren’t guaranteed smooth sailing. Still, we hope for a swift and perfect outcome.
The rest of us face little, everyday hassles that can take their toll. Lately, our family has experienced a string of these: appliances that don’t work (usually the day after the warranty has expired!) and various family members playing musical chairs with the flu. We hope for the end of such maladies.
As I reflected on my own bill of unknowns, I sensed unrest. I want so much to know how our family and my story will work out.
It’s human nature to want editorial control of our lives. We itch to make our mark.
The New Way
Advent calls us to stop and turn back from trying to write our own stories. The more I try to write away the unknown, more of it seems they come out of the woodwork.
There is no peace for the unknown other than Advent: waiting for Christ.
I forget there are just some problems that aren’t solvable by little ol’ me. I try to remedy myself with people, things, and my own good cheer. This is the old way, where I hope in myself, my plans or my story.
God calls me to live a new way. He wants to make His mark and to write His story instead. As I wait for the worst to unravel, God shows up and makes sense out of the stress.
Thank God I don’t need to be stress-free, in order for Him to work in me. Jesus’ birth proves it. Jesus came when the world was messed up, arriving small, under the most unpromising circumstances.
This is the very rescue I need because I am small and messed up… and unpromising.
This is the Hope of Christmas — No matter how wrapped up we are in the unknown, God knows the way.
Without Jesus, we are left to only hope that things will change for the better. With God, we have Hope that He can make us better.
Any patches of unknown waiting on your holiday path?
God knows you and He knows the way.
“Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.” ~ God (Is. 42:9)
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.” ~ God (Is. 43:19)
Be sure to catch my next post in the Holiday Sharing Series! Feel free to drop your comments below. I love connecting with you through them and post my reply at the end of the day or thereafter. SUBSCRIBE NOW to get updates from FaithBarista hot and fresh directly in your mailbox via email (click here) or RSS (click here) news reader.
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Ahhhhh. Sweet relief when I come here, Bonnie! I feel you were speaking a sweet reminder just to me today. There are so many unknowns in my life right now, but you are so wise in reminding us that Advent is a season of hope and patience while we wait for the coming of Christ. It’s a season of worry for so many where there should only be peace and happiness. Thanks, Bonnie!
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In this season of Advent, we do wait but we need not wait passively. We can prepare . . . by offering a hand to someone in need, by making an effort to say thank you to one who presents us with a gift of kindness, by accepting the Unknown as a means to show faith and understanding that we are not alone and will be provided for, by engaging with the Spirit to spread the spirit of good-will.
There is so much we can do before He comes, and none of need be stressful, only faith-full.
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“It’s human nature to want editorial control of our lives. We itch to make our mark.”
That’s so true! I don’t know about you, but when I edit what I write, I’ll get bogged down in the small things like “your” and “you’re” or where this comma goes, and this one doesn’t. Not that I don’t think that these are important, but I won’t notice that the entire theme is off.
We like to pick and prod at the obvious little flaws in our lives and others, but fail to see the forest of issues through the trees.
Great thoughts, Bonnie!
Bonnie, the thing I love about you is that you don’t have to get poetic or cryptic – you have a knack for saying a thing like it is, and the truth rings out so clear you can’t miss it. I wish I could write like you; it is often so hard to get out of my own head.
I’ve been over a year in advent for me, over a year of that letting go of which you speak. You are so right. The waiting, it changes us. The hope we have becomes something altogether different as we release our ideas of what we want, what we should be into His hand. We learn to hope for a Savior, for the Great Light who redeems us from the darkness.
Thank you for your visit – and your comment – at my blog today. I deeply appreciate His affirmation through you.
“Jesus came when the world was messed up, arriving small, under the most unpromising circumstances.
This is the very rescue I need because I am small and messed up… and unpromising.” – Thank you Bonnie, I love that…
Unpromising circumstances wrapped The Promise.
@Heather: When I look behind me and see how God worked through past unknowns, I’m also reminded to sit tight – He doesn’t seem to do it any other way! 🙂
@Mo: “by accepting the Unknown as a means to show faith and understanding that we are not alone.” This is salve to the waiting souls, who receive the “wrong” encouragement to just “pray harder” or “have more faith”!
@Brett: I hadn’t seen it that way. That is a very good point, Brett.
@Kelly: That is so encouraging, Kelly! Thank you! “waiting, it changes us… hope becomes something altogether different as we release our ideas…” Indeed, it does.
@Doug: Miss your visits, Doug. I hope you and your family have been doing well, recovering from so many changes in the past months. God bless.
One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been “Joy to the World.”
It was not written as a Christmas carol, but as a song of Christ’s second coming.
All of life is a season of advent—the waiting for the Lord’s coming.
“Thank God I don’t have to be stress-free in order for him to work in me.”
I needed to hear that today!!
Beautiful and true!
@Anne: Thanks for adding to the post. I didn’t know that!
@Joye: What a special name you have. Thank you for sharing and wonderful that you are here.
This line made me smile and feel the corrective, beautiful pain of wisdom all at once…how true:
It’s human nature to want editorial control of our lives. We itch to make our mark.
Appreciate the new perspective on Christmas…waiting for His advent. Thanks for the reminder
that in all our unknowns He is in control. We can trust Him. He is the Way. 🙂