These weeks of Advent are waiting weeks, pausing to take in the glory that is etched on creation’s timepiece of telling. We wait and we look and we linger at the light shows and the parading of splendor, aware but maybe not wholly acknowledging the brevity of the season. Maybe because we want to hold onto the good as long as we can so that hope rises within. Maybe because we want to believe again, the echo of peace that rang out with the birth of a blessed baby. Maybe because we want to let the joy permeate the brokenness that exists just below the surface. Maybe because we want to trust that love is stronger than suffering and wider than the chasm that divides.
Hope, Peace, Joy, Love…4 words we wait upon as we look for the promise.
Maybe we need the hope that spills from the promise to become the bulwark that upholds our faith.
Christian hope, by contrast, is faith looking ahead to the fulfillment of the promise of God.- J.I. Packer
Faith…the evidence of things we don’t see and the substance of all we do that testifies of that believing… it’s always the essence of hope and the spilling of the promise. Because faith and hope are linked interchangeably, united by a truth from a promise-keeping Father who has not failed to fulfill even one.
And faith breathes peace into our days…assurance that He will complete what He has started. The imprint of “I Am” in our unfinished have not moments.
This second week of Advent, the Peace Week, has had me thinking about one of my favorite sections of the story of His coming, the advent of God with us… Mary’s Song. Each time I read her confession and her prayer of praise, I marvel at her faith… I am envious of her peaceful acceptance of His advent upon her life. I am challenged to stand open handed before the message of the Lord and dare to receive what He has promised.
Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [ like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God. – Luke 1:34
Audaciously bold faith believes the impossible. And because it was His presence overshadowing her, His advent upon her days that brought about the Holy Thing, pure and sinless, that was birthed for the world in need of peace, she chose to believe in His ability instead of her own. It was this miracle of wonder that spilled seeds of eternal hope into a beating brave heart strong with faith, daring to trust that God believed in her more than she believed in herself.
I wonder if she was tempted to say no. I mean, it would be my first response… No, I am not the one… I sometimes let my understanding of what God can do mingle with my lack of understanding of what God can do, but I admire the way she knew that she could trust God so fiercely, so fully, so completely. Her confession is a phrase I linger on often…but find myself wrestling with in feeble faith, still parleying with God about the plan and the process instead of trusting in His providence. Peace is not usually involved in the interchange I have routinely exchanged.
But God sent Mary a heavenly message… He sent a faith-full peace whisperer to share the good news, to prepare and to impart the hope-spilling faith-building peace she required to step into grace and behold God. Can you hear the invitation like she did? Are you ready to step into the impossible with God?
For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. – Luke 1:37
And this handmaiden, Mary, this girl still young and innocent, yet acknowledged by God, responded with resolve and assurance. She declared with a maturity that belied her years because she knew that God was exactly who He said He was. She knew that I AM was able to do the impossible, to bring about the promise that His Word declared…to filter hope like a funnel into her soul… and manifest a miracle.
In a moment her faith became her testimony and grace bloomed in a confession of faith from her lips.
Then Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said. And the angel left her. – Luke 1:38
My favorite Christmas song of all time is, ” Mary did you know?” I find myself weeping whenever I hear it. My momma heart bleeds grace in the words. I wonder how her heart took in the face of her Lord as she held Him and the awe and wonder of the miracle His advent imploded into her life. I wonder how she nurtured the One who came to set her free, and I think about what she had to watch as a mother. And I think, still of her answer… Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. She is recalling hope as she spills forth faith in peace. ‘Look, I am willing to do what you ask God, not because I can but because God is. He is God.’
Mary’s confession of faith has ignited my heart time and again. This young girl believed and received a measure of His grace, and in that space of obedient trust she found a peace that passed all understanding. The peace that allowed her to withstand ridicule and endure the difficulty of the promise… the good news that she birthed by the overshadowing of His Spirit…was no easy task for her.But she believed. And she was blessed in her believing.
And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her from the Lord. – Luke 1:45
We are waiting in the shadows of our days, layering light in various ways to help us remember, to lead us to consider His coming again. His entrance into our now, the present of His presence as the peace offering our hearts eagerly desire is the coveted commodity. And yet, I wonder if I am ready to confess unashamedly as I ought. Am I ready to start declaring whose I am rather than what I am not?
Advent is that journey of letting go of the world, of letting fall to the side the fears and the worries and the burdens that keep us confessing what we are not instead of who we are in Him. He has given us the ability to recall hope so that we can be encouraged to have faith. That faith is the seed of promise…the promise of peace.
And Mary said, My soul magnifies and extols the Lord, And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, For He has looked upon the low station and humiliation of His handmaiden. For behold, from now on all generations [of all ages] will call me blessed and declare me happy and to be envied! For He who is almighty has done great things for me – and holy is His name [to be venerated in His purity, majesty and glory]! And His mercy (His compassion and kindness toward the miserable and afflicted) is on those who fear Him with godly reverence, from generation to generation and age to age. He has shown strength and made might with his arm; He has scattered the proud and haughty in and by the imagination and purpose and designs of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree. He has filled and satisfied the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty-handed [without a gift.] He has laid hold on His servant Israel [to help him, to espouse his cause], in remembrance of His mercy. Even as He promised to our forefathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever. Luke 1:46-55
Sitting here in the light glow of the tree in front of me, I am challenged to let hope spill in my heart and build faith enough to confess the impossible, to receive the benediction of the handmaiden of the Lord, to believe that the power of His overshadowing mercy is my inheritance, and to trust the fulfillment of His promise is the good news that permeates every breath with praise and peace.
Praying for peace and for a fulfillment of His promise in your advent journey.
IT’S YOUR TURN TO BE A GRACE COUNTER! SHARE YOUR GRACE MOMENT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND THEN COUNT GRACE WITH A FRIEND WITH COMMENT ON A BLOG OR TWO.
If you are a blogger, link up here with a post about finding grace moments in your life or one of your favorite inspiring and encouraging posts from this week. Share your thoughts in the comment section telling me about the #Grace Moments you experienced this week. *(only 1 post per link please)*
Take time to visit your neighbor next to you, and if you want visit a few more friends on the journey. We all need a little encouragement and affirmation as we travel together.
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Each week I will try visit as many of your amazing posts as I can.This is a safe place to sit and dwell in grace together, friends. I can’t wait to pour a cup of friendship with you and take in the grace moments you have to share. Don’t forget to leave a comment below, I love to hear from you.
A few extras to bless you as you collect #gracemoments this week:
If you enjoy the graphics in the post above, you are welcome to download them for yourself.