Expectant Like MaryNov 19, 2017 05:35AM ● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
year, I made myself a promise that I would buy 95 percent of Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving. I’ve even managed to ship a few care packages and boxes of
presents already. I think I learned from previous years that if I want a
peaceful, Christ-focused Advent season, I have to be organized, planned, and
Two years ago my father passed away on December 2. Advent was a blur. I don’t even remember if I shopped. This is a difficult time of year for that and other reasons, and I am choosing to spend December reading about shepherds watching their flocks by night, singing worship carols, and focusing on Immanuel, God with us. I want to create more family time, play board games, do a jigsaw puzzle, watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, The Christmas Story, and Elf. I can’t wait to cuddle my dogs on cold nights and breathe in Christmas candles and essential oils diffusing in every room. I look forward to my daughter baking cookies and filling the house with the delightful smells of Christmas.
I want to be expectant in my heart and soul, like Mary, mother of the Christ, my heart trusting in my God.
Luke 1:46-50, ESV
And Mary said,
soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”
What about you? Do you anticipate the fun or the stress of last-minute grocery runs for the cranberry sauce, post-Thanksgiving cleanup, Black Friday shopping, crowds, traffic, and the tensions that can be both beautiful and stretch us taut when around extra family during the holidays? Do you put up your Christmas tree? Lights? Is there anticipation in the air? Or just weariness.
Whatever season you are in, wherever the needle on your stress gauge is at the moment:
Do you feel the wonder of Advent upon us?
Like Mary, does your heart and soul magnify the Lord?
Does your spirit rejoice in God, your Savior?
Do you marvel at Him calling you blessed, simply because you put your trust in Him?
Do you know how mighty He is, advocating on your behalf?
Can you list the great things He has done for you?
Can you meditate on His holiness?
Do you feel the gravity of His amazing mercy?
Yes, I know, it is still two weeks away, but what can you be doing now to find Advent as December greets us? How can you know the peace and trust that Mary exhibited with her news of an immaculate conception and all that it would mean for Israel?
I believe the how is tucked within her Magnificat, her song to the LORD. It can be found inside this one phrase of tender humility:
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
Do you recognize your humble position before a holy God? Do you see yourself as His servant?
I strongly suspect this is the key to how we enter Advent, no matter what is waiting for us:
- Your mother criticizes your turkey being dry one too many times? Bow low.
- That angsty fellow shopper snatches the last Pokémon Ultra Moon off the shelf, and the sign says no rain checks? Bow low.
- That sports car zooms into the parking spot you were about to approach? Bow low.
- Extra houseguests keep piling dirty dishes into your sink? Bow low.
- The neighbor brings your dog over to the house, all while once again grumbling about how you really should have one of those electric fences? Bow low.
- CVS calls you twenty times in one weekend to let you know your prescription still hasn’t been picked up yet? Bow low.
- You sat down to catch an old friend up on some of the issues wreaking havoc in your personal life right now, but she focuses entirely on her own storytelling and you can’t get a word in edgewise? Bow low.
There is a great passage in Ephesians, where the Apostle Paul shares a rather lengthy description of that kind of humility, one that originates with a Savior having come, who will come again, and our expectancy that what He said in His Holy Word is true.
That He is everything that He said He is.
That He looked upon my humble estate, your humble estate, spread His arms across two wooden planks, and took our place as a sacrifice, a payment for our sin.
If we anticipate this, like Mary, during this Advent, our soul can truly magnify the LORD. We can find the peace of a yielded heart and soul, and we can spread that peace to people around us with a perhaps yet unidentified, deep yearning for Advent in their hearts.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Romans 12:9-21, ESV
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I’d love to hear what steps you are taking to prepare your heart for this Advent, for the Christ child, and for His coming kingdom.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.