Somehow, we are more than halfway through Advent, and I am certain most of us do not feel prepared. Advent is such a tricky time. We want to be expectant, hopeful, and watchful. We know the Lord is coming. We know the true reason for the season. We also know that if we don’t do the Christmas shopping no one will get any gifts, including our in-laws, and our husbands’ co-workers. For a mom, Advent means end-of-semester school projects, teacher gifts, Christmas cards, and holiday baking. And that says nothing of the time and energy it takes to create a budget, thoughtfully consider what each of your children wants, make your lists and then execute them. In the midst of the busyness, we are often told to slow down, to truly prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus, and that usually makes us feel more stressed out and less prepared.
I learned a long time ago, the only way to survive the season is to offer up the work of the season for the glory of God. Just as we are not called to a life of quiet contemplation, like that of a nun or a monk, we are also not called to an Advent full of quiet preparation. Nothing about our lives is quiet. Our lives are a living sacrifice, offered to the Lord because we love him and we know he can redeem all we give and use it for good in his kingdom.
So we can ask the Holy Spirit into the noise. May our shopping and baking and planning be blessed with the joy of the angels as they waited on the Lord to come. When we feel exhausted and weary, may we recall the weary Mary on the road to a strange land to have her baby in a stable. May we offer our so-called perfect plans for God’s better purposes. As we prepare, we can remind ourselves and our gleefully expectant children that what we were given on this day is so much greater than any gift they could ever long to see under the tree.
Children’s expectant joy is such a gift—a gift that reminds us what the true state of our heart should be at all times. Christmas will come, we will celebrate the gift of the infant king, but we celebrate with full knowledge of the ultimate gift: The gift of eternity with Jesus. I know for most of us, we have never been more in need of the hope and truth of that reality. This world will pass away, and we celebrate because we know that even the greatest joys on earth are nothing compared to the joy of our eternity in heaven. Truly no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what the Lord has prepared (I Cor 2:9). Imagine the great and amazing love with which the Father has prepared our heavenly home. We can give with tremendous joy, all the preparation, all the time and thought this season requires because the God who made us, who loves us and just wants to be with us in eternity, has prepared so much more for us! May our hearts of generosity and love be a glimpse to our families and those around us of the great unending love of a great and loving God.