Guys, there are 27 drafts sitting in my posts box. Most of them are just titles, placeholders for profound thoughts that I’ve had, spanning all the way back to the beginning of this year.
Clearly, I’m never really at a loss of thought. It’s just the following through with the blog post that I have a problem with. I don’t mean it, it just happens.
I was going to do a post with pictures from when my sister came to visit me for Thanksgiving, but they were all taken with my phone and I just can’t bring myself to put them up next to the likes of my Canon 60D photos. I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that I haven’t been able to capture college memories with anything but my pixelated phone camera. It’s not Canon’s fault that my 60D weighs a gazillion pounds and I just can’t carry it in my back pocket.
I leave for home in 16 days. Yes, there is a countdown on my dorm room door. I can’t wait to have coffee with my mom, hug my dad, laugh with my siblings, eat real food, use plush toilet paper, take a bath, smell a candle, worship at my church, drive my car. . .I just have to make it through finals first. Although, I’m going to miss Wheaton while I’m away. I guess this is what bittersweet feels like.
It is kind of a bummer that the end of the semester falls during Advent. The time we should be focused on others is forcibly spent focusing on our sanity and sleeping habits. When we should be celebrating the birth of our Savior, we are mumblings complaints about the alleged unfairness of our study guides. In high school, finals were always after Christmas, so centering myself on the meaning of Advent in the midst of the craziest three weeks of the semester is a new thing for me.
Sort of. But not really.
Because the things I learn during Advent aren’t really anything specific to December, the cold, or my Christmas Pandora station. Or the fact that I have finals that I probably should be studying for right now.
Two things the Lord has been teaching me this Advent season can be summed up in two words: waiting and incarnation.
First – we are all waiting. For something, anything. I’m waiting for finals to be over, bible study tonight, deeper friendships, mentors, Christmas break, my birthday, revival on campus, next semester, graduation, my future, roulette on Sunday, class tomorrow, more of the Holy Spirit. . .
Life is a series of waiting. There is never anything we aren’t waiting for. But what is so beautiful is that is exactly the thing Advent reminds us of – and glorifies within the person of Christ. It’s the tension of waiting for Christ and celebrating that He is already here.
But that’s where the incarnation comes in. Because Advent doesn’t stop with the waiting for the celebration of the birth of Christ and expectancy of His return, but Advent reminds us of the importance of living in the waiting.
It’s important that the Son of God chose not just to come to earth but to come as a human being. Jesus lived. I don’t think we’d go around calling ourselves gnostics, but we are kidding ourselves, and frankly missing out on a whole lot of Biblical living, if we don’t recognize modern Christian tendencies towards denying the bodily in favor of the “spiritual.”
One of the books for my Bible and Theology class last Quad had this thought-provoking quote:
“Indeed, the growing struggle among many students with pornography, masturbation, cutting, and body image may simply be an attempt by the human organism to get back in touch with its disembodied self as a means of verifying or proving one’s physical existence.” Read Mercer Schuchardt, Liberal Arts for the Christian Life, 250-251
While I think the aforementioned sins include spiritual tensions, Schuchardt raises an interesting point: we were Biblically created for dominion, relationship, self-denial. . .in a sense, living. Living implies the act of being alive. Incarnation is “God’s Word made flesh,” which means living at a whole deeper level. Living hidden in Christ, living with beautiful feet, living for eternity, but living none the less.
For me, part of living includes doing things that make me feel alive or hold some significance for me- like reading, writing, taking pictures, watching good movies, listening to music, laughing, and dancing. It’s easy for me to brush these things aside when life gets busy, but I need them. That is, I need them within my relationship with Christ. Because while Jesus is the only thing and person who will ever satisfy my soul and fill me with His Holy Spirit, I am also a body and mind, living in a physical, tangible world. And you know why that is so important? So was Jesus. The physical baby, Son of God, born in a manger, crying, bloodied, chose to live as one of us, to save us.
Here are some of my favorite, often missed, passages the Lord chose to include in His Holy Word:
“So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well” John 4:6
“The Child continued to grow and become strong. . .” Luke 2:40
“and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.” Luke 4:42
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” Matthew 11:19
“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.” Matthew 12:1
“Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2
And don’t get me started on the other people in Scripture. For goodness sake, John included that he reached the tomb before Peter because he was faster. They were humans, living by the power of the Holy Spirit, but in a very real world; waiting and living at the same time.
I’ve realized recently that I’m living with a working, physical brain that literally never stops thinking. Reading helps give me deep, insightful things to think of, besides myself. Writing helps me get those thoughts out of my head. Pictures, drawings, dancing, talking, watching TV, laughing – all of those are outlets to remind me that I’m living, my mind is working, and it doesn’t have to be focused on over-thinking every situation I am or will be engaged in. I think we miss out on a lot of the joy that Christ has for us because we struggle to remember that our quiet time with Jesus or our corporate worship and our studying for finals or laughing with friends aren’t mutually exclusive.
Do we remember that He came, a purpose of His Christmas birth, was to bring abundant life.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
In addition to Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy, I’ve been reading Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest recently. He writes:
“The pietistic movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them; there is nothing about them that needs the Death of Jesus Christ; all that is required is a pious atmosphere, and prayer and devotion.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
We think the more we spiritualize everything, protect ourselves from sin, conjure up feelings of happiness the closer we will be to Jesus, and consequently the holier He seem to us. But the irony, and beauty of it is that His holiness is magnified in His incarnation. His love for us is demonstrated in His intervention in our daily living. His glory is magnified in the waiting. Abundant life is found through His Spirit, as we actually live life on earth. . .with the hope of eternal living in our sights.
And this, friends, is what the waiting of Advent and incarnation on Christmas means for us (in addition to a whole lot more, said by a whole lot more eloquent speakers and authors. . .and Scripture itself).
I pray that the Lord would show you what abundant, incarnational living means for you. I pray that He would give you His grace to hold living and waiting in a tension that magnifies Christ. And that you would have a very blessed Advent season.
“Thou art worthy of an adoration greater than my dull heart can yield; invigorate my love that it may rise worthily to Thee, tightly entwine itself round thee, be allured by thee. Then shall my walk be endless praise.” Valley of Vision