Seeking Him first has always been my goal, daily. I have such good intentions, but my attention can easily be diverted by the mess and the lists and the calendar and the issues that are mounting higher and higher each day. And I get distracted. I get pulled away from the goal and the need of my soul.
I’d like to say that I find my way every morning to the very spot that my soul yearns to rest. That place where I meet with my Savior and settle close in the peace it always provides. And for the most part, I go there regularly…first thing and later, too, sometimes in between the morning’s mercies meet me and the end-of-the day graces catch up in the resting. But life sorta gets in the way often, and I don’t make time to seek Him as I ought especially when I have grace-amnesian. Like when schedules change, or when trials ensue, and when my people are being human, or when I just let my selfish-self rule. I am more than tempted to let the necessity to seek Him first slip by. I let the penciled reminder in the catalog of my mind shift that preparing and seeking time over, stealing from one thing to make room for another.
Have you been you there, too? ( please say you know what I am talking about)
But God and grace…
Advent always changes that for me.
As a family we literally take a permanent marker to the schedule and make the time to settle close together over lighted candles and around words on pages and with folded hands praying together, on purpose.And really, the preparing time that set aside to seek God is always done before we look for him, and as we have nurtured worship and swept away the cobwebs of self we begin looking for His grace as He is revealed to us. The preparing is the setting apart time of those made-for-God places that are already engrafted in our soul DNA, but we have to actively work it daily to see the progress all that seeking provides.
And I think that is what I love most about the Advent season. It is an intentional journey of discovery, an intentional looking for more of His presence in our present. It is a process of seeking hope, experiencing joy, practicing His presence, and understanding His grace all in a completely different way. Because we have cut away the unnecessary in exchange for the unlimited.
Advent is a preparing time. A purpose-filled time where the broken pieces of our soul are being held gently in the anticipation of His glory manifesting close upon them. A time where we look for good and we behold His mercy with unveiled eyes. A time where our searching results in finding absolute love swaddled in wonder, the wonder of His ultimate hope being seen through amazement and hushed awe. And awakening to the realization that heaven’s greatest gift was all about redeeming heaven’s greatest loss and the upside down paradigm of living for and in and with Christ in every moment of our journey.
This week as I settled into that sweet spot, early before the sun announced its ascent over the horizon, I rediscovered one of my favorite phrases in the Bible….’ But God’. In the hushed seconds of the descending twilight with the morning’s rays parting the dark canopy of night, I remembered Advent was coming soon. I was reminded, again, of the wonder of seeking and preparing and finding and following and living each day with God, not just for him but WITH Him.
And grace met me there.
“But God – so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,….demonstrated through the ages to come the immeasurable riches of His free grace in kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2: 4,7
I couldn’t help but think of all those ‘but God moments’ in my journey, the ones where He shows up providentially, when I am least expecting it, pouring out lavish grace in torrents of hope and love and goodness and kindness and favor. Those moments where I deserve to reap anything but grace, but His mercy always meets my soul where he demonstrates his constante love and melts the hard edges of my proud humanity in a warm and familiar embrace of grace.
And I realized that this preparing we do… it is a continual journey we make. The kind where our prayers float on the whispers we breathe, and the pauses we take to remember the broken or the difficult which drain peace right out of our cup for-like-ever.
In our wilderness places, in our wandering and our dark and sometimes confusing moments where it feels like we miss it and we forget to make grace or faith or prayer our habit, there is a way that brings good back. There is a place which leads us straight into the peace He has invited us to make our habitation. And we never really stop preparing for more of God in our midst. How can we? It is the constant renewing of our souls as His Word consistently clears out more of our dead pieces replacing them with the fullness of his life in us.
“…In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” – Is. 40:3
And this seeking we attempt… it is not as hard as we make it. We don’t have to look hard to find Him because He is as close as His Name on our lips. Because the wise find their way to the Cross daily. And really it doesn’t matter when we get there to Him, as long as we get there. The benefit for us is to seek Him first, of course. Because the wise lay down their life and pick up His way, forsaking the world… forsaking all.. to be set apart unto the Holy One. Because as we make this life-long journey of seeking Him, we set a precedent that others will follow. As we look for hope we bring others along for the journey.
“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.”- Deut. 4:29
And that is the magic of this season of searching and seeking for the promise of His love for us. It is full of ‘But God’ moments. It is full of #gracemoments. It is brimming with the lights and the joy and the expectancy that grace is real and God is really good and in the midst of it all we can seek the Holy one and be wholly found by the wonder of His rich and glorious love. We can be swept into the wave of mercy that poured over us as Christ stepped out of glory into a manger. We can be full of wonder in the watching as the heavens daily proclaim the anthem of peace and goodwill to men through the preserving kindness of His patience for us who fail often. We can worship with our best gifts, starting with the time we need to give back to God through devoted study of His Word and constant communing with Him in prayer.
“We give praise and thanks to You, O God… your works declare your Name is near and they who invoke Your Name rehearse Your wonders.” -Psalm 75:1
What if we seek Him especially close this advent?
What if we seek to be found by Emmanuel, embraced by grace and surprised by mercy?
Would it change your circumstantial faith to significant hope?
Would it diminish the difficult instances by creating #gracemoments instead?
My prayer for you this Advent Season is also a challenge… come, seek Him, let go of the weight you carry, and embrace his presence. Let His mercy demonstrate love to you in a way that changes your entire perspective and then imitate that to the world.
How do you make Advent special friends? Do you have traditions or make it a habit to light candles and gather your people in prayer and pursuit of His Word. I tend to collect advent books and studies like it’s my job. I’ve written a fun little Advent Journal that I’d love to share with you here. And my sweet writing friend Christie and her sweet girl just released an amazing little book that has been reminding of the power of beholding his precious gift ever close to my thirsty soul. Behold.
Some of my very favorite Advent Resources are:
The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
Jotham’s Journey Series by Arnold Ytreeide
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper
The Journey by Adam Hamilton
Come Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting by Kris Camealy
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.
If you don’t have a blog, you can connect with me via my Journeys in Grace FB page by sharing a photo or a comment. Or you can join the party by sharing your images on Instagram with #Gracemoments hashtag.
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.
We have some of the same go-to resources for Advent. Did you get a notification about Piper’s daily Advent devotional podcast? I just subscribed and am looking forward to it — knowing full well that I’ll be behind all the time. I still haven’t finished listening to all the Reformation podcasts from October.
I’m really intentional about doing Advent this year. All I know is that Advent should be a daily thing not just for Christmas – it’s such a blessing.
Dawn, thank you. I am entering Advent purposefully and found this post to be a wonderful starting point, so I have saved it to read over and take it all in.
I have appreciated your writing often this year, and I thank God for you.
May this Advent be a very intimate time with our Lord and Saviour, so that this Christmas He will meet us afresh and delight us again with a rich deposit of His love and wisdom.
May all of our hearts prepare Him room, and may we all be able to draw aside daily to dwell on the incredible miracle of God making Himself small enough for us to be able to receive Him, so that we can continually grow in our knowledge and love of Him,until we shall be made like Him, when He comes again.
Dawn, What a beautiful post, words pictures and all. You have encouraged me to seek the Lord in a deeper way. I pulled out a book today with quotes and scriptures for advent. I am going to be intentional of starting my day out that way and putting away my other books. Your post poked at my heart and gave me a longing for time with the Lord to ponder the advent season. Thank you! Maree