Every year, the scene is the same: It’s November, I’m driving somewhere, flipping through radio stations, and suddenly Christmas music is wafting through my speakers.
And every year, my response is similar. I’m not ready to think about Christmas. It’s too early. So, I switch stations and put it out of my mind.
Part of this reaction connects back to my years in college when Christmastime was synonymous with exams, final papers and due dates. Christmas music on the radio meant I was running out of time.
But beginning Dec. 1 to Christmas day, Advent is a season custom-made for heart preparation. Its intention is to prompt us to set aside a bit of space each day to ready our hearts for the entrance of Christ.
This season of preparation always catches me off guard.
But rather than let the busyness of the Christmas season overshadow the presence of a holiday designed to celebrate God’s love and sacrifice – the very entrance of the gospel into the world – I should be preparing my heart to respond to Him out of love and gratitude.
Author Ann Voskamp writes,
“We’re ready for Christmas, not when we have all the gifts, but when we are ready for Christ – when we’re ready to give all of ourselves to Christ.” This Christmas, I want to do a better job of preparing my heart to celebrate the arrival of Jesus into the world. Here are some ideas in the running:
That way, when Christmas morning arrives, your attention will encompass more than stockings and Christmas dinner and the gifts beneath the tree. Instead, your heart will be captured by the ultimate gift – Jesus.
Originally from Detroit, Martha now serves in Orlando, giving leadership to Cru’s Summer Missions. This is the first of in series of advent reflections for this season of hope and anticipation.
What do you long for the most? What is your heart longing for?
If you’re like me, you know that the “right” answer is Christ, yet maybe it’s not your first thought. Mine either. From a young age, I dreamed about the future, and the joy I would experience there. I longed for marriage and family. I was not longing for Christ, but instead for the pleasure that my life would surely give me.
Now, my reality has shifted – I have experienced real pain from unmet expectations, team conflicts, and relationship disappointments. Life doesn’t look the way I had hoped. Some days I feel contentment and satisfaction in my life and ministry, and then there are days when unmet desire drives my heart to ache for something more.
In my brokenness, I catch myself waiting for life to change, to stop delivering sorrow, but it does not and never will. I am longing for this sin-stained world to deliver a better life in vain. But I must be the one to change – to instead long for Jesus as the one who has come to deliver me and save me from this worldly grief.
Psalm 62 invites my desperate soul to find rest and hope in God alone. Verse 8 is where I pause. “Trust in him at all times, O people, pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”
This is how I want to move towards God - with an open, soft heart, believing He sees, He knows and is safe. I respond to His invitation to share my sorrows, and shed my tears. I find refuge in His comforting presence. I remember His own suffering on the cross and my reconciled relationship with Him because of His death on my behalf. I grasp the eternal hope held out to me because of His resurrection.
Jesus is the One I am waiting for. Jesus Himself. Jesus is not only my refuge, but He is my strength in weakness. My comfort in sorrow. My shield from the enemy. My hope in the face of despair.
I pray this advent season, you and I would recognize the coming of our Savior into the world is the “thrill of hope” our weary souls ache for!
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name!*
Come. Let us draw near and worship him, Christ the Lord.
*refrain from O Holy Night
A community where Jesus Christ captures hearts, transforms lives, and launches men and women into a life long adventure with Him.