Listen to this devotional:
Psalm 40:1-2 – I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (NIV)
Suddenly, I was awakened! The sound was scary: vicious winds and pounding rain! It was the third bad storm to hit British Columbia's west coast in ten days. The leaves had long since been whipped off the trees, and the television showed pictures of houses once nestled beside beautiful river banks, now deep in mud and their basements a miry pit. We went to bed after preparing as well as we could: flashlights put somewhere within easy reach and candles with matches nearby. Shoppers filled the mall, buying containers of water. It looked like Christmas shopping, but Advent hadn't even started yet. We were preparing, but for what? Nature's fury!
How do we prepare for Christ's second coming? Advent is a mad rush of shopping sprees, but are we preparing our souls for the greatest event of the year — the coming of Jesus? How do we prepare for that? By praying, of course! Waiting patiently for the Lord, of course! But is there anything really practical we can do to prepare for a close encounter with Jesus this year? Next year may be too late.
The shepherds didn't have time to prepare; it just happened. They were ceremonially unclean and barred from the temple. Yet, there on the hillside, they encountered a breathtaking act of God and were given a signal accompanied by some directions, which they followed successfully. They saw Him! During this year's time of preparation, should we be asking for a signal, accompanied by directions, so we can be well-prepared for a personal encounter with Jesus? I think it will just happen as we wait on the Lord.
Some old folk saw Him too. I find that interesting, now that I am of that age. Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38) were not important people, but they were regular worshippers in the temple, faithful to their God. So, again I wonder: will Jesus be presented to us this month while we are at worship? Will we recognize Him?
Advent is a time of waiting for the Lord to act — but we need to be prepared for a surprise! Maybe that is what is so special about Advent: it will always bring us to the edge of a great surprise. Every time Jesus comes, it's in a new and most blessed way — right out of the unknown. We are ordinary folk, yes, and old folk, too, and we cannot really prepare for Jesus' coming by shopping, but by faith, we look forward to it with expectant joy.
Prayer: Dear Lord, open our eyes that we may see You. May we see You through the eyes of a trusting child, or the fading eyes of a faithful senior. May we see You today in the strained face of a wet street person, or the welcoming eyes of a church usher. May we see You in the love of family, and in the support of a close friend. Thank You, Lord, for coming into our lives at those critical times, those times of pain, and in those fantastic times of family celebrations. You have heard our cry; thank You for carrying us through whatever hectic pace this day demands. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.