I took a moment in the bustle of this past weekend to be still. To think about the current season, the past one and the upcoming one. Only 120 hours prior to this moment I had trolled Facebook before heading to a weekend FREEDOM conference with my lovely church. It is my second visit to this conference – the first I was a participant – this time I was a servant to the participants, a volunteer, a spectator and an intercessor on their behalf. I knew that for at least 24-36 hours my social media moments would truly be stolen, quick ones – more focused on posting the success of the conference and open hearts than on the typical daily troll of other people’s updates. So I was trolling slowly, soaking in the social aspect of IG and FB. I noticed a trend on the posts coming from our “root Village”. Camden was having a week. One of those weeks where knees humbly grace the floor while heads bowed lay softly upon the Savior’s knee. He was with them last week, as He always is, from every home, every business, an outpouring of lament and love for two very sweet young men. One struggling in a hospital searching for answers and another returning home to our precious village with an answer heartbreaking in its discovery; he now faces leukemia, treatments and more questions to follow the answers. But in all this, in these two stories of heartache for young men, family, and friends…I saw it again…that outpouring, far reaching, all-encompassing love that moves mountains, destroys disease, mends a heart, lifts a spirit, shines light into the darkness and warms the soul. My “root Village” is a Miracle Mount in South Alabama. It is a place where community isn’t just a public grouping of people; it is a place alive with hope, compassion and light. The kind that breaks through the darkest FB posts, where the simple word “praying” on a comment line is truly a representative of the person whose name it accompanies. Yes, these two young men are facing trials, giants even in their lives, but they come from a town with a heart like David. Be strong. Have faith, lay your hope and your love on our Savior.
In this same spirit as I read the stories of praying for these boys I stumbled upon ADVENT. Our church, for the first time, is doing an ADVENT post each day. When I was young my parents had this tree, faux branches, about 13 inches tall that had little drawers all over the base; actual drawers, with knobs and numbers. Each drawer held a tiny ornament that would be placed on the tree as the days counted down. I used to love to pull out each ornament, watching the calendar as each day came. I got excited anticipating what little treasure I’d discover. No matter that the ornaments were the same every year, just reorganized to be in different drawers – there was something about the waiting, the expectancy, the excitement that captivated me; even when a bad day wanted to weigh me down I looked forward to that tiny ritual. For me the anticipation of something can be where I really enjoy the moments coming. It spans so many themes personally: vacations, birthday week, parties, football games – the categories can be endless. This year my thoughts are occupied with many of those things yet there is more. Advent is more than just numbers on a calendar leading to the presents and celebration of the holiday. It is waiting, anticipating, expectancy; yearning…it is where I am this season. I love Christmas. I love the feelings it inspires and the kindness it evokes. I love the presents –giving & receiving. But ADVENT is different. I read recently “Advent is the question, the pleading, and Christmas is the answer to that question…advent gives us another option beyond false Christmas cheer or Scrooge. Advent says the Baby is coming, but He isn’t here yet, that Hope is on its way, but the yearning is still very real. Advent allows us to tell the truth about what we’re grieving, without giving up on the gorgeous and extravagant promise of Christmas, the Baby on His way.” (Savor by Shauna Niequist) For us, personally, the words ‘the Baby is coming’ struck me so hard, so fiercely that I burst into tears. He never lets me forget that He is ALWAYS planning for us, that He WILL fulfill His promises and that we need to slow down, reflect on the waiting and remember to trust Him always. As right now two specific families in our root village await information day in and day out as to how their sweet sons are progressing, we wait to hear any and every update on the child(ren) we are praying for (still no update or change in the process by the way).
Learning all this in the past few days changed ADVENT in my heart, it has me thanking God for the season that understands heart’s desires, loneliness, uncertainty, long nights and desperate prayers…we must remember to open ourselves to ADVENT, to the anticipation and belief that what is broken will be beautiful, what is lost will be found, what is empty will be filled, what is desired will be fulfilled…trust Him. This season is often our reminder of happy days but it also is a time where we miss our loved ones already gone, where we fear the year looming ahead and the answers to questions we never really wanted to ask. But thankfully in all the glitter and glitz there is the simplest beauty to be found, the fact that its okay to tell the truth about our grievances and still be excited for Christmas. Our disappointments, our worries, our heartaches are very real, but a very real Hope and Promise is on the way and He fulfills His promises.