Driving, alone, this morning, I realized that there's something missing from Advent for me this year. Something I was having a difficult time putting a finger on. As I drove, I breathed, I soaked in the relative silence, enjoyed the dancing snowflakes, and prayed. Prayed like I do every day. Invited God into that moment and every moment of my day. Asking, for the million and tenth time this year, I'm sure, for help, support, for peace.
And then I knew what was missing.
During Advent, I usually have a feeling of getting closer to God as we draw closer to the celebration of Jesus' birth. As I listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies, attend Sunday worship, and make my way through Advent devotions, I center my life more and more in the water and the Word. As December days grow shorter, I find myself in greater anticipation of the celebration of Jesus' light entering the world.
But this year has been different. That hasn't happened. Don't get me wrong - I've listened to the music, watched the movies, done the devotions, and diligently attended worship. My anticipation of the Birth has grown. But gotten closer to God? That just hasn't happened. At first this thought was disconcerting. Is it because of how difficult this year has been? How painful? Have I somehow gone astray? And then it hit me:
Over the past year I haven't wandered away, I haven't grown more distant from God as can sometimes happen when you're no longer focused on His earthly arrival - or when you're living a rollercoaster life physically and emotionally. This year life hasn't gotten in the way. This year I haven't gotten in God's way...well, not too much. Through my ups and downs, I have grown in my faith and felt God's love more now than ever before.
This year love has opened my eyes. I let go - of expectations, of control, of everything - ok, almost everything. I lived life, and loved life, day by day. I prayed. I waited. And sometimes waited a little more. Some really amazing answers appeared along my path, and even when I stumbled or felt let down, I felt love lifting me up, opening my eyes to life, to good, to God.
Love opened my eyes to its reflection in a child's touch, a pastor's words, and a stranger's smile. In caring for others, in laughter, and in tears. In pain, in the darkest night, and in a caretaker's hands.
Love opened my eyes to His reflection in a child's touch, a pastor's words, and a stranger's smile. In caring for others, in laughter, and in tears. In pain, in the darkest night, and in a caretaker's hands.
So let love open your eyes this year - to wonder, to peace, to the little things, to the big picture, and to a lifetime of surprise.
"Our world is aways changing.
Every day's a surprise.
(Live a lifetime of surprise.)
Love can open your eyes.
(Brother, look around)
In our world.
When night lays sad upon you
Go watch a simple sunrise
(See wonder in your eyes)
Love can open your eyes
To our world."
In Our World/Brothers by Paul Williams