last year i was given an advent book called watch & wait. itswritten by an incredible man who has been involved with knoxville yl for years. i have gone through a couple of his books before and they are great and i knew this would be too...but still i never opened it. i think it was because i had a solid routine down for my quiet times and didnt want to disrupt that by starting a new book in the middle of the one i was currently going through. over the past year though i have learned that i dont need a routine for my quiet times. because when i have a routine it becomes more of a chore than anything....sit in a quiet place, read a chapter of the book im going through, read the corresponding scripture, journal. that is great, all of it. but i think it becomes a task and sometimes i dont connect at all with what im reading or the scripture but i have an attitude of "well i did it" and then i journal just to say i did. pointless, i would venture to say. anyways...the last several months i have thrown my quiet time routine out the window and i simply spend time with jesus every day. some days it does look like my old routine, some days its just reading scripture, some days its music, some days its sitting in silence and just being still at the feet of jesus. and some days that is more than enough. this christmas i pulled watch & wait off my bookshelf and praise god i did. the first week was called groaning and it pulled out of me everything i am groaning and longing for. yes, i was longing for jesus in the christmas season. but it drew so much more out of me than that. it drew out of me the stuff that burdens me 365 days a year. what am i groaning for? good answer: christ. real answer: grace, clarity on what to study, future career, ministry growth, relationship, understanding, trust, peace. a whole lot of things. a whole lot of earthly things if im one hundred percent honest. it was good to realize these things. the things i often address as 'yes i want these things but my desires for them dont consume me'. that isnt true. they do consume me. and so it was good to be able to identify these things and in the advent season be daily reminded to hand them over to jesus and in return be consumed with a desire not for worldy things but for the arrival of our long awaited jesus. understanding my groaning did a mighty work inside of me. i continued to adventure through the book and it was so good for my soul. especially as my soul rode quite the emotional rollercoaster over christmas break. i will say that it ended in a high way but the final swoop downward was the death of my grandfather just a few days after the new year. it sucked. merry christmas, happy new years and then my grandfather dies. life is fleeting, right? the week of his death and funeral i honestly didnt really spend much time with jesus...at least not in the watch & wait book. ironic...i know..as this should have been the time i clung tighter to jesus. but alas, i didnt. after all of the funeral stuff was finished and we began to move forward i toyed with the idea of digging back into the book. i blamed it on the fact that its set up by week and i though i had thrown it all off. but really thats a lie because the reason i didnt want to do it is because i was bitter. i was bitter that my grandfather died. i was bitter that thats how my christmas break was going to end. i was bitter because my heart felt lonely...on account of death and other things. and i was was bitter because my heart felt troubled. so i almost didnt finish it but for some reason i felt drawn to it so i did. god is good and knows what he is doing. the final week of watch and wait left me sitting for seven days straight in psalm 25. mostly these verses.... "turn to me and be gracious to me. my heart is lonely &afflicted. the troubles of my heart are enlarged, bring me out of my distresses."
my heart has been so lonely and so afflicted. but sweet jesus - in his long awaited arrival - DOES bring me out of my distresses.
he rescues me from my lonely & afflicted heart. glory glory. because its easy for me to sit in my lonely & afflicted heart and just allow myself to be, well, afflicted by it. to let it drag and tear me down and be so discouraged by it. sometimes i let my afflictions consume me and overcome my joy. but my long awaited jesus comes in and and sweeps me out of my distress. praise god that he whispers his words to the places of our soul that need it most.
it was good to explore advent more this year. and it was good to explore what i often wait for. and what i should be waiting for. im thankful that i watched and i waited this year. i think waiting for a long time for things makes whatever it is that much more exciting. the same was true in this...in the weeks leading up to christ's arrival all of the waiting made the goodness of our king that much more glorious.