If Santa’s reputation can be trusted, I’m getting coal this Christmas. It’s as it should be. This year my prayer life has limped along, and my selfishness has run rampant. I justify my actions and make excuses for my behavior, but I suspect old Claus is looking at me, rolling his eyes, saying, “Don’t even think about it.” Truthfully Santa’s economy make sense to me. I’ve earned my shame.
This is why the season of Advent seems so foreign to me if not downright impossible. I’ve done very little to foster hope, peace, joy, or love. So when they’re offered to me, I end up looking around, pointing to my chest, like, “For me? Is this some kind of joke?”
No joke. Thankfully hope, peace, joy, and love have nothing do with my efforts. They actually start and end with the Rescuer. But I have called out to Him personally; He is mine and I am His, and so He promises that Advent is indeed for me.
This Good News should mean I’m “joyful and triumphant” all year, right? Turns out, rescue is a long, tedious, hard business. I should know. I’m in the middle of it—trudging through the desert, in the belly of a whale, blinding scales on my eyes. But at the same time—and this is what I hold on to—rescue is loaded with hope, because where there’s a rescue, there’s my Savior. Emmanuel; God with us; God with me.
In the middle of their rescues, in the middle of their laments, the wayward turn to God. The Israelites did it. Jonah did it. In my own sin, in the din of the world, it’s about all I can do. I can barely tolerate these tricky times, let alone postulate what God is doing in the world. I have no idea what the next move of His church should be. I can barely tell anymore which way is up in today’s social storm. And I can’t even begin to explain why I do what I hate (again). But I turn back to my Savior who’s with me. Feebly, maybe. Confidently, sometimes. Humbly, definitely.
Because of Him, it’s Advent season, even for me. Hope, peace, joy, and love light my dark, scary, strange world. And the weary soul rejoices.