What Has Come to Your Life?

It’s Advent Season

Advent means coming – the coming of the Messiah, the long awaited one.

There’s always something coming around the bend, isn’t there?

  • Your annual scourge of the flu
  • A job transition
  • New neighbors next door
  • A new and revolutionary software upgrade
  • An 800 year flood

As you reflect on this past year, what came into your life? What welcome events made your year that much better? Which disasters appeared over your horizon?

Christmas is now here, arriving as it always does – too soon but also full of just the right hidden messages that we needed to hear every day of our lives. The Good News of Christmas, the advent it introduces every year, causes us to stop, if we have the courage, and think about the things that mean the most to us, and maybe what we ought to do about it.

“…And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

An advent of some sort or another is always appearing. This year, remember that nothing is going to arrive in your life that will surprise God or that can overwhelm his presence and power.

Even before the Good News was proclaimed in Bethlehem, God had promised his constant presence and protection.

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”  – Isaiah 43:1-2

God has not changed and his promise remains.

What has arrived in your life this past year? Perhaps it was something really big that disrupted everything you thought was so certain. Maybe your life was right on its normal track but when you think about it, it’s really going nowhere.

We celebrate the advent of the Messiah at Christmas, as a reminder that our lives in Christ are no longer the same and that nothing will ever arrive to put our lives out of his order. Christ is now with us. No matter what else arrives in the years to come, Christ will always be here with us. We celebrate this reality every Christmas.

“And I will be with you, day after day, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20 (The Voice)

“Because He has raised Jesus the Anointed from death, through His great mercy we have been reborn into a living hope…” – I Peter 1:3 (The Voice)

Christmas is the advent of every single day of hope that you and I have been living ever since. Be reminded this year that this hope is real because we live it out in front of the whole world each day (the good, the bad and and the ugly days). Jesus arrival, life, death and resurrection means that we can walk confidently in hope every single day.  It arrived and never left.

“The place that the shepherds found was not an academy or an abstract republic, it was not a place of myths allegorised or dissected or explained or explained away. It was a place of dreams come true.”  ― G.K. Chesterton

Empirical Living

I don’t know where I came across this quote…(I think it’s someone’s wisdom that just floats around the internet)

“Don’t let your ears hear what your eyes don’t see, and don’t let your mouth say what your heart doesn’t feel.”

I’m frequently encouraging my social science students to think and speak more empirically. I want them to be more specific and think about what they can feel, hear, see, taste or touch. To take their ideas (or those of others) and try them out, to see if any will hold any water. It’s another avenue to finding the truth.

Each one of us needs to live a life that’s always in search of the truth.

I don’t know about you, but it’s usually easy for me to get fuzzy in my thinking. In fact, it’s a rather common phenomenon among human beings.  Our minds are filled with all sorts of biased thinking.

  • Have you ever heard of the Planning Fallacy? That means that most of us underestimate the time it will take to complete a task.
  • What about the Social Comparison Bias? We don’t like to hire people who we believe will compete with our own particular strengths.
  • Then there is the Well-Traveled Road Effect – we tend to underestimate the time it takes to travel frequent routes and over-estimate the time it takes to travel less familiar routes.

Without even realizing it, we all develop crooked ways of thinking, feeling and then interacting with other people.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29

Does it have to be a cuss word to be considered “foul”? Sometimes, the most abusive words that I use toward others are little, bitty slights and slanders that I speak in jest. I do this automatically, without really thinking. My mouth is way ahead of my heart and soul.

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

To follow the admonition of this Scripture takes deliberate, intentional and selfless living. It will mean more specific thinking about your words and deeds as they bless or harm those around you. You will have to find ways to be much more conscious about other people and to fade away yourself. Once your heart remembers it’s own bondage, it’s so much easier to let go and forgive.