What strange days we’re living in right now. Uncertain. Unsettling. Political unrest at every turn. The climate crisis. It would be easy to lose heart.
But we find ourselves about to embark on this season of Advent, the first week of which is based around the theme of HOPE.
Looking around our communities you may be forgiven for neglecting to notice any hope, but friends its there. It may be hidden deep but the candle still flickers on through even the darkest of nights. The battle of everyone is to not lose heart. The heart is made for something altogether more beautiful, and that heart is the wellspring of life within us. There is a depth within us that hears the often-missed whispers speaking to the forgotten places - “overwhelming goodness is coming”. This is where you will find your hope, as deep calls to deep.
This week I was reminded by the Psalmist (91) that the faithfulness of God is my shield. Oh my how I needed to hear this. We are encouraged to put on our armour of God (Ephesians 6), which includes the shield of faith. But what happens when my shield gets a little battle worn, when my armour and shield pick up a few chinks? What happens when my faith is low, when I find it hard to love?
What if we really believed and lived like God was standing next to us with His own shield? Faith may be our shield, but when that fails, His FAITHFULNESS steps in. In fact He is not only standing next to us, He’s is in front, behind and undergirding us. His faithfulness upholds us.
So when our hearts become weak and fail us, and they will dear friends, lets remember this - ‘My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ (Psalm 73)
Advent reminds us of the deep longings, desires we each have whether we can articulate it or not, for the goodness of a restored and renewed existence. All life and all things made new. We are made for Eden, which is why unmet longing will probably always accompany us on our little sojourn through life on this side of the renewal of all things. But do not be disheartened. There is reason for this. Jesus has overcome, we get to play a part in the renewal that started 2000 years ago in a cave in the Middle East. Thats when the Kingdom began a new advancement through our world, when this baby literally flipped human existence and understanding on it head and forged a new way of grace, peace, love, understanding……and hope.
Hope found a way.
Hope carves out the foundations for us to grow in love and faith.
This Advent, Hope reminds us that Jesus began something that shattered all previous beliefs about God, humanity and our place in the story.
Hope keep us walking narrow way. Following the still small whisper amidst the barrage of voices and distractions. And leads us into a glorious future.
Dallas Willard encouraged us to ‘ruthlessly eliminate hurry’. Lets ruthlessly eliminate the hurry this Advent, but also the brutality that this season often has on our souls and dig deep to recover a sense of hope. Hope in the One who gave it all, that we might live from the glory of God with us, Immanuel.