Advent 2016: HOPE & Waiting

advent-hope

An Advent calendar equals chocolate.

And if chocolate is involved,  I am definitely on board.

Once upon a time, someone felt that waiting in expectation for the day that signifies Christ’s birth should be illustrated using perforated doors and festively shaped chocolates. Genius. But there’s a little problem in the execution of the calendar. My 8-year old holiday spirit (the one that screams at the first sight of twinkle lights/sobs at the line of Noble Christmas trees on the curb, post-holiday-mortem), doesn’t want to open one door per day. I can remember my actual 8-year old self, rationalizing this with Mom, itching to pierce through the next door and claim the goodness. We already know what’s behind there, Mom.

Why wait?

I’ve never been very good at waiting.

Despite the reputation of my Gen Y squad, I grew up believing that good things come to those who work for them. There’s no elevator to the top – you have to take the stairs. So I did. In my earlier twenties, I poured myself into things I thought would bring fulfillment. I was chasing shadows of happiness up stairways to nowhere. A soul-sucking career. A jaded relationship. An unhealthy fitness obsession. One-sided friendships. If I could just work a little longer, love a little harder. And as holes appeared in the floorboards of my life house, I poured every ounce of myself into fixing them. I spread myself thinner and thinner, until one day, my patchwork couldn’t hold. It all came crashing down.

Where was God in all of this? Then, I would have said He was inaudible. Now, I can see my stubborn heart had tuned Him out. I never doubted that God’s hand was somewhere in the rubble, but I just couldn’t see it. I was waiting for Him to step in and fix everything. Drop a new job in my lap and Prince Charming on my doorstep. Make me feel like all of the things I’d worked for hadn’t been in vain. That the heartbreak was leading me somewhere. Anywhere. I’d mastered the art of holding my hope in Jesus with a white-knuckle death grip instead of placing it at His feet. I wanted to cling to the promise of God’s plan for my life, but also be able to change it, if I didn’t like where it as headed. I wanted all of the chocolates and I wanted them now. 

 That’s not quite how it works.

In the years following, I swept up the pieces of my life and found no other choice but to wait for God to reveal how He would piece them back together. Hope may not come as a sudden rainstorm, flooding your soul back to life in an instant. I think it comes in so many forms. An unexpected gesture. A person placed in your path. A song lyric. A quiet moment. For me, it came in all of these forms and in time. So much time. But Hope came for me. And my hope continued to grow as I rediscovered my identity in Jesus. I finally loosened that death grip and allowed myself to trust in His faithfulness. I found rest in the hope of His promises for my life, even though I couldn’t necessarily define them. It’s definitely a process – and I don’t think it’s over.

I recently read a passage that perfectly captures what I believe God spoke to me – and what He wants me to leave with you:

I crawled into the hollow where you were hiding. I wrapped My arms around you when you were swallowed by your fear. I waited with a patience you could scarcely fathom, until the day you were ready to accept that you are Mine. And now, I will carry you home.

The Advent season is such a beautiful illustration of hope, as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s coming into the world and also look forward, confident that Hope is coming for us again. I pray that you find a renewed hope in this season of your life. That you recognize it – whatever forms it takes. And in those moments when you feel like you’re stumbling through the darkness, know that you’re not alone. He’s got you and He will carry you home.

alyssaHi! My name is Alyssa. I’ve recently returned to Grace after living all over the map and I’m so happy to be back in this community. I love spending time in nature with my fur-child Rogue, exploring Portland food and shopping gems, and will rarely be seen without a cup of coffee in my hand.

 

 

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