December 14, 2011

When advent gets personal.


I'm not sure that advent season has ever meant so much to me before.

Not the cute little calendar. The word itself.

Advent season is the church's name for the breath-held, suspended season right before Christmas dawns. It's expectant. It groans as it waits. It is joyous, but waiting on fulfillment--all at the same time.

But here's the thing: I never really understood that.

I never really understood what it meant to hope or watch with my lantern ready. Never understood that pregnant pause of yearning for redemption... The gasping kind. The kind that brings tears. I dunno. I guess I just was never frustrated enough to notice the penetrating desire that waiting, like REALLY waiting, on something can be. 

So of course, as is His way, God stepped in and said, "And that, my daughter, is something I'm going to teach you. Because your being uncomfortable and learning how I supply your breath is more important to me than a cookie-cutter little Atlanta life."So He's given me three desires to w-a-i-t upon this season: ______, _________, and ______. (I love you, dear reader, but not THAT much. Take me to Starbucks and we'll talk).


At church on Sunday, in typical form with pen-in-hand, I scribbled down before the talk somethin' along the lines of "Move Spirit. I really need to know what to do about _________."

Louie started talking. Any guesses to what the sermon was on? You get a cookie if you said waiting. Of course. Waiting. When advent gets personal.

Instead of thinking "Oh my GOSH, the pastor is talking directly to me," I've realized that um, well, Ashlyn, when you think that, it's also because you're a human being and welp, you have the same struggles and God speaks to His people.

So, as it turns out, a lot of us must be waiting on something in life.

Ya feel me?

And my heart these days mirrors the advent calendar. I can feel the ache for something build in my heart. I don't want to sound too far out in left field, but I feel it physically and just all over--waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Arrrgghghghghghghghgh.

Before baby Jesus came into the world, His parents had some very special couple friends. The couple friends were named Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Elizabeth was Mary's cousin. I hadn't given it much thought before, but you need to know Elizabeth was barren. Like, girl was REALLY barren.

She'd kept the letter of the law.
She was of Aaron's line.
For goodness's sake, she was married to an incredible guy that was even a priest.
But they had prayed for relief. Oh, how they had prayed for a child.

God heard them--of course He did. But "not now," God said.
"I hear you, children, but I will not give you that today."
"Or today."
Or today.
Or this week.
Or this week.
Or this week.
Or this week.
Or this year.
Not this year.
No, not this year either.
Or this one.
Nope.
Not now, child.
Not this year.
Not this decade.

Elizabeth grew old. Elizabeth was old, but she and Zechariah remained faithful. And one day, the priestly calendar rolled in to Zechariah's turn to clock in for priestly duties in the temple's Holy of Holies. Boom--Zechariah turns around and it's one of the coolest angels ever, Gabrielle (Good thing you don't need inhalers in heaven because I am so pumped about meeting Gabrielle.). And Zechariah is told he will have a son.

The son? John the Baptist.
No big.
Just the one human on earth that paved the way pure Love to enter the world. 
The one who fulfilled ancient prophecies of "the voice of one calling in the desert."
The one who baptized Jesus Christ himself.

There he was, a cousin born precisely six months before Jesus whose life fulfilled countless prophecies and whose life complemented the work of Christ Jesus. Worth the wait, right, Elizabeth? 

Ha.

Worth the wait.


It's just little stories like this one that remind me--my God is for me. My God waits with me. I don't "wait for" God. He is mine already. He knows it hurts a little bit for a human heart to yearn, suffer, strain for something. He knows that. So for a cure, He steps in while we wait. To hang out with me and remind me my God is the God who provides. That He is at my right hand. That He "makes all things beautiful in their time."

I picture it like He's sitting beside me. And he pats my back like a Father would and says, "I know, my love. I know. Hold on. I love you, so hold on. You're precious to me and I am for you. I'm so for you, Ashlyn Stallings that I'm not going to give you that right now. You want silver, but my darling I want GOLD for you. We just need everything in my will to align before I give you gold. Okay?"

Okay.

Waiting kinda stinks. But "the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders."

And I'd rather rest there. Oh, how He loves us.

Photo credits: 1 / 2 / 3



15 comments:

  1. Beautifully written. Wonderful thoughts to keep in mind, especially at this time of year.

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  2. Great post. I have no gone by the advent calendar because my family (as a whole) doesn't go by it, they just celebrate Christmas Eve and Day. Do you think its too late to dip into the calendar or should I just wait til next year?

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  3. Needed to read that tonight, in this mess of impatience and emotions I'm knee-deep in right now.

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  4. Thank you, Ashlyn.. I needed this. Thank you (as always) for the reminder.

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  5. Girl, we have got to get coffee...maybe via Skype. I know I am 10 (give or take) years down the road but the waiting never really ends, it just changes shapes and people and desires and circumstances. We wait for the Lord and through the waiting he reminds us that all the "stuff" we think we are waiting for (true love, a dream job, a cute house, security, satisfaction, perfect children, etc.) are just glimpses of HIS glory...a peek into what we really should be waiting for: Him. Alone. A fellow sojourner with you...

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  6. Mary Catherine KinneyDecember 15, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Ash, you're right on my dear, darling friend. He is greater. Love you!

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  7. Ashlyn, you're seriously inspiring. I love reading your blog. I needed this today, so thank you.

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  8. Let me know when you're free to go to Starbucks :)

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  9. Love your blog, Ashlyn. Always seems to hit a note that speaks to me. God is so good, and He always has a plan so much bigger than we can ever dream of.

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  10. Hi Ashlynn, I'm a regular reader, but I don't comment often. I loved this post though, and it really spoke to me with something the Lord is asking me to wait for right now! I hope you don't mind, but I have a "featured posts" section in my sidebar, and I included a link to this! :-)

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