Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent Thoughts

So I haven't been reading through an Advent devotional or anything this year.  Some years I've done that. This year I haven't.  Mostly because I didn't seek anything specific out and plan on it. But I have been thinking about things a lot.  Weirdly enough, I am reading through Genesis right now.  And I love how God always ties things together.

I have a borderline obsession with the Old Testament.  Well, parts of it anyways.  You get me in the prophets and my brain is what it was in college in my calculus class that was taught by someone who didn't speak a word of English:  very confused and muddled.  Mostly because I have such an ignorance of history and sequence of events and though I love the words, I lose the story itself in places in the OT because I just don't know where to place it.

But I adore other parts.  Genesis specifically.  There is so, so much in Genesis.  So many stories layered on top of each other.  And I love them.  I cannot wait to get to heaven and have Jesus fill in the gaps for me.  Because there's a lot we don't know and my little imagination just goes all crazy like it's on an acid trip or something, wanting to plug in the holes and imagining all the things we're not told.  I've started reading through Genesis again because I bought this little gem at the last Beth Moore conference I was at.  It is a great resource!

This week I've been in Genesis 3.  Where Adam and Eve have sinned and are ashamed of their nakedness and God is sending them away.  And I got caught up in the part where it says God gave them animal skins for clothing.  That is the first reference to death in the Bible.  God killed animals to give them clothing.  Already, a substitution.  Blood being shed for their benefit.  I think sometimes we forget that the Bible reads more like a dark fairy tale than a children's book.  These stories are not tame and gentle.  They are wild and filled with blood and death and horror.  And life and hope and redemption.

I've been thinking about that this week.  And about Emmanuel, God with us.  Both in the sense that we have his Spirit living inside of us, and in the fact that He came to earth.

We put up our nativity scenes and we think the story a lullaby, so sweet and soothing.  But it's theme is power.  Battle.

Imagine the scene in heaven:  They know the enemy is watching, tracking.  Wanting the Son to appear because in the enemy's pride he thinks he can defeat him.  It is not silent nights and sweet kisses that heaven is thinking of.  It is fury and war.  But in that, a plan, thought of so long ago.  The mighty God-Son Jesus will wrap his Godness in flesh and in an act of humility that should leave us stupified, will let himself start as a cell, and grow to be a baby.

Do you get it?  It is not Silent Night.  It is not the image on a Christmas card.  It reads more like a Bourne movie.  Enemies and chases and a wild desperation on the enemy's part.  Battles between good and bad being fought in a realm unseen over a manger in Bethlehem.  Jesus snuck in covertly.  He let his essence, his Godness, be put into the tiny, totally dependent form of a child.  All for the saving of a people who do not deserve it but for which he is prepared to offer himself anyways.  And in his making his way into this world (in a way that was painful and loud and not gentle and serene), things did not calm down.

I've gone from thinking of the story as a picture in a storybook Bible.  I think of it more with the intensity of 300 or Gladiator.  More gripping than reading through Hunger Games or being on the edge of my chair when Dave and I battle it out in Call of Duty.  I see it now from this perspective of intensity and battle.  It is epic.

And in thinking of Jesus I think of hope.  Expectancy. Of things wished for.  Prayed for.  All things fulfilled in Him.  Not by his answering the way we want but by He himself.  And always, always, hope.  Hope buoys me some days and betrays me others.  She is a merciless companion.  Always taunting you when you just want to throw her to the curb.  Sometimes we want to give up on hope.  But she sticks around, ever nagging me.  I think of Christmas.  Of this season where we celebrate hope fulfilled.  In ways the world wasn't expecting or waiting for.  But hope was fulfilled nonetheless.

So maybe instead of reading through a devotional this year, all wrapped up cozy in my house, I will instead watch a bloody war movie and think of the battles being fought in the spiritual realms.  I'll read the story online of the girl who at age 12 was sold into prostitution and I will think of Jesus and know that that's the reason why he put on our flesh and came here.  To give that girl life.  To buy us all back.  We don't have a nativity scene at our house.  But I will look at the Hulk and GI Joe figures in our living room right now (because we are goofballs and yes, we have them) and I will think those figures of war and intense battle more fitting.  And I will thank God once again for hope, for Jesus, for being the God-General of angel armies who will one day come and lay to waste the lies and horrors of the world in which we live.  And I will put my face to the floor begging him to show me how to show Christ to this hurting world.

Because he is more than a quiet child in a manger who coos and smells sweet and doesn't cry or make a fuss like we have deceived ourselves into thinking.  He is hope and life.  Everything we want.  And everything we still wait for.

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