An Advent Devotional for 2020
Read Isaiah 64:1-9.
Expect! Watch! Anticipate! Prepare! Hope! Those Advent words can be challenging, even frustrating when one has been expecting for long periods of time. Each year during this season—as we wait for our “long-expected Jesus,” we prepare our minds for celebrating the magnificent event that changed the world. Perhaps this year, because we have been in pandemic mode for almost a year, some of us are stumped for demonstrating some fresh anticipation. Who you gonna call for some new and authentic Advent energy? We are bored and isolated; so who wants to wait?
Some waiting periods are doable because we know the definite end time—like a school schedules, a pregnancy term, retirement process, recovery times. Most of us expected COVID-19 to be gone by now! But these days, families and church communities are still dealing with deficits, lost employment, lost opportunities, and lost access to resources. Faced with insurmountable challenges, some respond and accept—rationally or not—that permanent disaster will come; so they beg: “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”
As we digest daily (sometimes more often than that) breaking news, like the Isaiah passage, we want to cry out to God: If only you would tear open the heavens and come down! If you would make your name known to your enemies. We feel powerless, uncomfortable, even agitated. It’s a justified response because as people of faith we know we serve an awesome, powerful God who could clear up the mess with less than a glance. We might even fantasize just how God could do that thing! (Sweet!) Then we’re back to reality: We are the clay and God is our potter. All of us!
On the other hand, some families and communities may be managing with a combination of both realities—life is improving and life is just plain scary.
During this time of anticipation—for the pandemic to end and for our journey into the future—God is busy shaping and molding. In the midst of continual sicknesses and deaths, people have found ways to grow, to revise, redirect and make the lives of others better. Across the globe, others have learned new ways to be creative and productive, bringing satisfaction, helpful solutions, and well-being to their communities.
Whatever our reality, this Isaiah passage gives a recipe managing: We are the clay and God is our potter. All of us! This understanding can be useful when we’re losing patience. God loves it when we humble ourselves, admit our weaknesses, and covet God’s guidance and direction as we face issues that live us scratching our heads and worrying. My imagination says the angels do a little jig when we ask God to lead us and submit our minds to God’s will—clay for the potter. It’s actually kinda freeing because we are relieved of having to figure it all out; we can confidently move forward in childlike trust. Think that’ll make God smile?
As good listeners and observant followers of Christ, we respect the lives of others and try not to assume we understand what is going on with people. Many are waiting for employment, healing, a spouse, a child, security and direction. Some just want whatever “it” is just to be OVER!! Others look up and impatiently tap their watches for Jesus’ return. Here are Scriptures that offer support while someone’s wait is tested or when people are just tired of being tired. If the opportunity arises, with compassion and ease, pass these Scriptures along to someone else; you may just be carrying God’s encouragement to them.
- Trust God’s word. God will shield us. Psalm 18:30: God! His way is perfect; the Lord’s word is tried and true. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
- See God as your fear repellant. God’s righteous strong hand offers strength. Isaiah 41:10: Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand.
- Expect tests and be ready to encounter them with power. James 1:2-4: My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.
- Wait with your whole heart and being! Psalm 130:5-6 I hope, Lord. My whole being hopes, and I wait for God’s promise. My whole being waits for my Lord—more than the night watch waits for morning; yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!
Face it. This pandemic season has helped us:
- prioritize our needs,
- focus on and listen to people closest to us,
- remember and/or locate things and people we’d lost or forgotten,
- recognize issues that really matter and decide how to be part of the solution.
This double portion of wait time can help us redesign our paths. We have recognized that many things will never go back to what they were. For some, this is good; for others, it is devastating. Our quest is for God’s guidance as we chart new paths for ourselves, our families, our churches, and our communities, especially as we begin working in new ways, new settings, and with new people. We will make worthy and relevant commitments and trust God to alleviate our fears. We accept the challenge to look beyond our communities and see other needs we had not considered. As we do this, we remember that God is the potter; we are the clay. With God’s power, we are ready and able spread love and to live as God calls us. All of us!