A Long, but Not a Lonely Journey {Advent}

It is such a long journey.

You know, life, sometimes it is just is so exhausting. Long and exhausting.

Yesterday every step I took was laced with the hidden intent to inch myself closer to bed. I woke exhausted and the cloud never lifted. Despite many things to do, my body was done. It couldn’t go any further.

When I.hit.the.wall of physical fatigue, I think of Mary. The one who heard from the lips of an angel, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you” is also the one who exhausted herself that the Lord within her might be borne from her.

She walked about Nazareth under the eyes of scrutiny as her belly grew and her hands swelled and her back ached. She endured sleepless nights, with thoughts racing about the growing concern she witnessed on Joseph’s face. As the time drew near for her baby to born, she walked 80 miles to Bethlehem from Nazareth because a prophet many years before made a pronouncement about this special baby being born in Bethlehem…crowded Bethlehem, as in the day-before-Christmas-at-the-mall crowed.

I love this depiction of Mary's journey by Ralph Hulett http://www.animationguildblog.blogspot.com

Sometimes we tell this story as if Mary were not under the curse of sin. She too experienced the “increase of labor pangs.” As is true for us, God’s blessing was received on the path of sin’s curse.

Yet, His promise remained, “The Lord is with you.” When you hurt. When you worry. When you fear. When that baby within has outgrown the space. When others whisper about you. When you feel alone. When you are exhausted from feeling all that you feel. It is then, the Lord is with you.

In our Advent waiting we must remember to be true to the Text. We don’t know that Mary rode a donkey…but we hope it’s true. It’s just as possible she walked every.single.step of those arduous 80 miles. We don’t know that Mary had a Hollywood pregnancy—you know, where a woman carries a baby without adding one ounce of cellulite and delivers without dropping one splatter of sweat. It would be nice if that were true, but it’s more likely Mary cried and feared and bled and at had at least one moment where she broke down in exhaustion and declared, “I don’t think I can do this.”

Because that’s what the curse of sin does. It tells you that in your feeling, you are failing. You should give up. Go back. Call it quits. It tells you that you are alone; God is not with you. Forget His promises. You are not favored. You are forgotten.

Sin gets us living for what we wish was true rather than embracing with courage what we know to be true. {See the Garden of Eden if you doubt that. If you’re still not convinced, keep turning the pages. The history of man as told in the Bible describes a condition bent toward deception.}

Advent waiting requires we embrace Advent promises. The curse of sin remains. Yes, it has been broken by our Has Come King. One day, our Is Coming King will remove the curse of sin completely from the earth. But for now, we journey with the promises of God in a broken, yet remaining and exhausting state of sin.

The Christ within us will also be borne out with sin’s curse of pain in labor.  His new life in us will stretch us. Sin’s resistance will exhaust us. There will be sleepless nights. Some days it will feel like it will never happen. As with all births, it takes time and it requires persisting until the promised date arrives. Ah, but it is new life.

“Behold, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you” Isaiah 42:9.

“You have multiplied the nation, and increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest” Isaiah 9:3.

“But as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear hear, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him’” 1 Corinthians 2:9.

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” Romans 8:19-23

The Virgin birth reminds us we will feel the weight of sin but reminds us to choose courage to believe the promise, “God is with us.” Immanuel is here. We are not alone. No matter how long the journey. No matter how exhausting, the truth is God is with us.

In our waiting, we do not wait alone.  Can I get an ‘Amen?’

3 thoughts on “A Long, but Not a Lonely Journey {Advent}

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