Sunday, December 13, 2015

Advent - joy

I stretched out a twin bed this afternoon listening to my sons play on the floor near me. It was gray and rainy and felt more like March or April than December. The weather matched my mood. Today is one of the days of the year when I am reminded of something I lost - or perhaps a more accurate way to say it, someone lost me. I can say it's their loss, and that is true, but it doesn't completely take away the pain of being rejected, erased, and replaced. The word for the day is joy, but honestly I felt melancholy.

Driving to Bubby's musical practice tonight, I felt a still, small voice remind me, "I will not leave you as orphans. I will come for you." As the choir sang tonight, I found myself in the cry room at church, holding Bugaboo who was having a meltdown, asking God to show me where I can find joy in this situation, in all of the situations that cause me pain.

"I will not leave you as orphans."

I googled for verses to read for the third week of Advent. We lit three candles, hope, peace and joy.  I read from Isaiah 35:

"Energize the limp hands,
strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls,
'Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here,
on his way to put things right
And redress all wrongs.
He’s on his way! He’ll save you!'
Blind eyes will be opened,
deaf ears unstopped,
Lame men and women will leap like deer,
the voiceless break into song. ...
There will be a highway called the Holy Road.
No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road.
It’s for God’s people exclusively—impossible to get lost on this road.
Not even fools can get lost on it.
No lions on this road,
no dangerous wild animals—
Nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
The people God has ransomed will come back on this road.
They’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion,
unfading halos of joy encircling their heads,
Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness
as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night."

My voice cracked reading it. Everything I needed to read tonight to point me to joy was in this passage. And then there was still more to read.  We are a day behind in our new advent book, and tonight was about the goodness of being adopted into God's family. Fitzpatrick and Thompson wrote:

"If you are in a family, you know that our families are not perfect. Moms and dads sin against children, children disobey their parents, grandparents don't always love their grandchildren the way that they should. Our families aren't perfect. The only perfect Father is God, and He has decided to make you His child. ... In our forever home we will love and be loved perfectly. In our forever home, Heaven, God's love will make us so lovely that we will never sin against anybody or be sinned against. So right now, when you feel like you aren't loved by your parents, you can know that God
loves you completely and fully, and one day you will be home with Him."

Maybe it doesn't seem like much, but sitting tonight with the candles and the verses and the devotional, God reminded me of why I have joy. I am His. He does not leave or reject or replace me. He has given me the hope of heaven and the peace that passes understanding which brings joy on this rainy, melancholy day. He has not left me as an orphan, as the fatherless, He has come for me. That is the joy of Advent and of my faith in Christ.

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