Wait Here to be Called

 

Mary and Gabriel

I don’t like to wait. I don’t like to wait in lines at amusement parks. I don’t like to wait in the carpool lane at school. I don’t like to wait to be seated at restaurants. Our kids can’t wait to open their Christmas presents. I can’t wait for the magic of Christmas Eve. And to be completely honest, sometimes, I can’t wait for all of the holiday craziness to be over, so we can get back to our routine.

Yet, the Christmas season, particularly Advent, is a season of waiting. The focus of the Advent season, of course, is to prepare for and celebrate the birth of Jesus…and anticipate Christ’s return. Advent reminds us of the importance of waiting.

This past Sunday at church, we lit the third Advent candle, symbolizing joy. Yet, our pastor acknowledged all of the pain in this world. Friends are grieving the loss of loved ones. We are heartbroken by the inexplicable violence and terror in our society. We feel the darkness when lives seem broken beyond repair. In the midst of this season of both joy and pain, we were reminded by our pastor of the words of David, who faithfully sang to the Lord, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent…” Psalm 30:11-12.

During Advent, we are waiting on the birth of Emmanuel – ‘God With Us’…A God who not only lived and died among us, but a God who promises to be with us in the middle of our joys and our pains. We wait with a spirit of hope. We wait, with faith, for a God who brings peace to our hearts in the greatest times of pain and can even turn our wailing into dancing. When we wait on the Lord, we ultimately put our hope in something greater than our circumstances. Psalm 27:14 encourages us to wait in hope: Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

We also wait for God to guide us throughout our lives. I once saw an airport sign that said, “Wait Here To Be Called.Wait Here To Be Called”  I chuckled to myself thinking it would be nice if it was that easy. We wait for our calling – to be a spouse, to be a parent, to find the right job or career – to be used by God in some unique way. We wait, not knowing how or when God will answer. Psalm 37:7 reminds us to be patient, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…”

Whether or not we like it, we spend much of our time waiting – waiting for the next stage of life, waiting to feel God’s call, waiting for the pain of death and the pain of sin in the this broken world to lessen. We wait for heaven. We wait for Christ’s return.

The airport sign made me think a lot about waiting on God.

But perhaps instead waiting to be called, our calling is to wait!

God asks us to wait patiently in hope and expectation because He can heal our hearts, give us peace beyond understanding, and clothe us with great joy. So, this advent season…enjoy the wait.

The Angel, Gabriel, rocked young Mary’s world with inconceivable news of an unplanned child. The life she had been waiting for would look entirely different than she could have ever imagined. Gabriel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; God loves you dearly.” (Luke 2:30 PHILLIPS).

And the same is for you as we celebrate Advent.

Do not be afraid; God loves you dearly.

Happy ReNew Year

Happy New Year

I’m not really a big fan of New Year’s resolutions – perhaps because I have a fear of failure. I can’t stand the thought of letting myself (or anyone else) down. I almost feel like I have a better chance of success if I don’t put extra pressure on myself. So, instead of making resolutions, I tend to look at the New Year as a clean slate…an opportunity to renew myself. January feels like a natural time for renewal. The beginning of the year is quieter, and for this reason, January is becoming one of my favorite times of the year. (And not just because the temps are in the 70’s in San Diego this week. ☺)

This January, I am focusing on a couple of areas. The first being to finally find my regular exercise routine here in California…and not drinking beer in the month of January. Small steps, folks. You may notice I have not cut out wine or Makers Mark, and I certainly can’t make any commitments into February. Both of these New Years efforts might be a result of my five-year-old telling me I look like I have a baby in my tummy. (kind of like Jennifer Garner’s baby bump.)

My second area of focus is with my family. I am with them almost all of the time. But my goal isn’t particularly lofty… really my goal is to just to show up. Not just physically, but also emotionally and playfully. I want to play more with my kids. To be less distracted by mundane daily chores and social media and communication. I don’t think I’m alone in this boat.

I saw this amazing Spanish Ikea commercial last week (on social media, of course). It really impacted me. Given the choice between getting anything they could imagine from Santa or spending time with their parents, the children in the interview chose the quality time. The video is touching – take a look. It made me think about opportunities to renew my self in 2015.

Last week, at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, Senior Pastor Mike McClenahan shared some valuable thoughts on renewal that poked at my heart. I think that there are great take-aways here whether or not you are a Christian. The pastor encouraged us to think like Jesus, to act like Jesus, and to be like Jesus. Okay, that’s a lot of pressure for a girl who never wore a WWJD bracelet.

Regardless of your faith, it’s hard to deny that Jesus was a pretty stand-up guy. We’re talking about a man who encouraged people to love above all. Not to judge. To treat others as you would want to be treated. To honor our parents. To forgive. To serve. To take care of the poor. To welcome children and to be like them. He was man who spent time with untouchable people, prostitutes, and the greediest of tax collectors. Jesus was cool.

Romans 12 encourages us to “not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” So, I think renewal is a good place to start, no matter what month it is, no matter how many times I have to renew myself. Have you ever seen the bumper sticker that says, “I love your Christ. I just don’t love your Christians.”? Without daily renewal, I have no hope. WWJD is a heck of a lot of pressure. But, if I can just focus on the basics of being like Jesus – loving and serving others – then just showing up (and playing) is enough for me this year. In what areas of your life would you like to see renewal in 2015?

This past Sunday, Pastor Mike McClenahan reminded me that not only was Jesus born on Christmas as our God on this earth. But he grew into a man who taught us what love really looks like…what it really means to show up. I love the idea of a fresh start on January 1, but renewal is just as available to us on the other 364 days of the year. And this year, I’m going to remind myself that renewal is an option every day. Sounds much better than focusing on failure to me.  Talk about taking off the pressure.  Daily renewal is going to help me show up. To love. To forgive. To serve. And to simply play with my children and maybe even be more like them.

Pretty sure I’ll need renewal in August as much as January. Happy ReNew Year!

“Too much to make sense of it all
I know that Your love breaks my fall…
… Oh, to be like You…
..Forever The Hope in my heart.”
Scandal of Grace by Hillsong United.