Longing – reflection on advent

Hi everyone. I have put a YOUTUBE clip at the bottom of this entry that I’d love you to watch – but here’s why.

Advent is a season of longing. It’s a time of the year for me, as a follower of Jesus, to think about the promises of God and His work in my life – and His assurances to me. It is also a period when I can reflect on all that has gone on in my own journey with God and allow space and time for reflection, repentance and renewal.

This morning, I stood in the midst of the frost and the cold and simply remembered. Beneath the surface of the cold, hard ground around me, life remained strong and hidden. The plants and trees around me have shed their leaves, casting off the garments of last summer and focussing their energies and strength on deepening their roots and sucking up the energy and nutrients they need from the earth. Advent is like that for me, I think. What of last year has to be discarded? What words and actions need to be allowed to whiter and fall away, like leaves falling lifeless from the branches of trees? What can I learn from last year – what nutrients do I need to soak into my life so that I might be more effective in my service of Christ – and perhaps most importantly, I can become more like Him? Old attitudes and assumptions that need to be changed – areas of my theology that need to grow more, reach out more, broaden? I am now convinced that if my theology has not changed then I have not grown.

But advent is also a season of longing – yearning. It’s a time for me when, full of hope and expectation of God I allow the deep longing of my spirit to reach out to God in a new way. I am not talking about the kind of longing that we often think of as ‘normal’. This isn’t like the ‘longing’ for a holiday or the ‘longing’ to have something new in my home, or a strong desire to do something for the first time, or visit the theatre or have a meal in a certain restaurant. No – I mean much more than that. I’m talking about the longing, the deep-seated yearning that knows deep within that there is more of God to see and understand and experience. It’s like a thirst in the desert, or the desperation for air you feel when you have been swimming under water for too long. A deep, primal ache for more of life, more of reality, more of God to be known and felt and encountered. I have had enough of theologies that box God into cerebral cells or confine him to purely emotional cul-de-sacs. I don’t want a relationship with God that looks disdaingly on experience. Nor do I want a theology that is driven by emotion and feelings and treats thinking and reflection like some kind of nasty virus that best belongs in the hankerchief of humanism and philosophy. It is not so much that I simply ‘want’ God – I think each Advent brings me to a deeper realisation that without Him, I cannot live.

My longing is for life beyond existence, for depth beyond veneer, for hope beyond circumstances and for a spirituality that goes way beyond superficial platitudes or confessions or liturgies or choruses or tongue-speaking. My yearning is for a fresh revelation of the God in whose hands my very breath is. I want to stand on a cold morning, with the frost carresing the ground and the cold air invading my lungs and I want to be able to put my head back and close my eyes and know beyond knowing that the reality of the presence and power of God is every bit as real as the air I breathe and the ground I stand on. I want my faith to deepen and grow and my intimacy to be more intimate. I want my commitment to good works to extend beyond obligation and my engagement in worship to reach into the darkest recesses of my mind and heart and experience and shed new light on dark corners. I want my prayers to flow out of a heart that yearns to give God more praise and a more central place in my heart. I want to pull down altars that have been built where only God’s throne should sit. I want my circumstances to be submitted to my faith that God is real, His presence is here and his commitment to me never changes. I want advent to be a time when the deep-seated cry of desperation inside me is released with emotion and power and intensity and is allowed to break through all the ‘stuff’ that so often keeps it in its place. I want the cry ‘I love you Lord’ to be from the very core of my being and I want it to fracture my fortitude, shatter my self-centredness and break my beligerence. I want advent to be a time of risk-taking, dangerous faith when I see again that God can do anything, anywhere with anyone. I want advent to help me see the cloud the size of a man’s hand in my life and the lives of my friends that reminds me that God has not finished with me or with them yet.  I want advent to be a fresh dawning of hope, a new and dazzling day for the Kingdom, a pulling down of the powers of darkness and continual firework of faith. I want advent to set the tinsel ablaze with a passion for holiness, I want it to invade unhelpful divides between the ‘secular’ and ‘sacred’. I want it to upset my applecart, to push me into the centre of the will of God and drag me, even if it is kicking and screaming, away from my comfort and into a place of absolute dependence on God. I want to go further, reach deeper, understand more, experience more genuinely, reflect more clearly, the grace and wonder and majesty of God. I want to sing ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanue’ not just with my voice, but with my whole life and heart and soul and spirit. I want to run into an ocean of God and swim in Him, completely dependent upon His grace and power and love. I don’t care what people think. I don’t care who mocks me. I want to close my ears to the conservative critics who tell me I to hold things in balance. I don’t want to be ‘reserved’! I don’t want to hold anything back. I don’t want to be polite about my love for God. I want to surrender more, to give more, to love more deeply, to rejoice more fully, to praise more passionately, to live more outrageously for Him.

Joel Houston captures it in ‘I’ll stand’ – enjoy

You stood before creation
Forever within Your hand
You spoke all life into motion
My soul now to stand

You stood before my failure
And carried the cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon Your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what can I say
And what can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to You


So I’ll walk upon salvation
Your Spirit alive in me
My life to declare Your promise
My soul now to stand


So what can I say

And what can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to You

So I’ll stand

With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all
I’ll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours


http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/0-YUU-MRjw4&hl=en_GB&fs=1&color1=0x402061&color2=0x9461ca&border=1

2 comments

  1. Malcom- Thank you! It’s hard to put into words what that desperation and desire for His presence in our lives feels like, but you’ve given a description of it beyond words! Be blessed- C

  2. Hi Cheryl
    Thank you so much for your comments – we hunger for God so much and yet find it so hard to articulate it I think.
    How are things?

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