Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent 2012, Day 1: A Fire Lights The Darkness

"'Is not my word like a fire?', says the Lord..." - Jeremiah 23:29, NKJV

"Gather ‘round that fire this Advent season. It is warm. It is sparkling with colours of grace. It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights." - John Piper

   This is the first post of December, and the beginning of Advent as Christmas approaches. As a tumultuous year of challenges, ups and downs, achievements and setbacks draws to a close, I wanted to try something different this year that would make Christmas relevant and meaningful. Realizing that I had never engaged in serious devotion during the season of Advent, I have decided to attempt a daily following of readings and meditation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary [1], as well as John Piper's Advent devotional readings "Good News of Great Joy" from Desiring God [2]. I hope to do so everyday, and post my own thoughts in the light and comfort that they shed on my own life and journey as I look both backward on the road to here, and forward to the road ahead.

   "Jesus is not lonely....We, not He, are starving for something. And what Jesus wants for Christmas is for us to experience what we were really made for—seeing and savouring his glory." So began John Piper in introduction, referencing the words of Christ in John 17:24. Those words brought me up short, startled by their directness. Besieged, embattled, tired, weary, struggling, worn down - those would be some of the embellishments I would add to that choice descriptor, "starving." To see and savour His glory, to know the name that He has made known; aye, I want that. I really need that. I would gladly run to take shelter in the warmth of that comfort that Christ offers to the weary soul.

But where must I start? What must I do?

   Both Gordon-Conwell and John Piper pointed me to historical reminders of the human condition, plainly stated truths of the word of God in Isaiah 11:1-9 and Luke 1:16-17 respectively - that my problem is first vertical and internal before it is external and horizontal. I suffer in body, mind, heart and spirit because of the disobedience and rebellion against a holy God that I have been part of because of my very human lineage. The "...turpitude of mankind that resides in the sinews of our sinful hearts,...the base desire to claim the rights and privileges that belong exclusively to the Father" has indeed taken its heavy, heavy toll. "Christmas is an indictment", said John Piper, "before it becomes a delight." As I contemplate my own, largely public failings with the prayer of Ps. 139:23-24, the "pound of flesh" that must be paid for our rebellion with a clenched fist against Heaven is heavy indeed.

   What hope, then, does someone like me have? "By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan," said Isaiah, "in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined...For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." - Isaiah 9:1b-2 6-7, NKJV

   There. That's what I need. The Child that is born, the Son that is given. He is the promised fire of the word of God that I'm waiting for, the fire that lights the deep darkness. I'm looking forward to His arrival this Christmas.

- The Wisdom Seeker