Appraising Advent In Light of Faithfulness
If you’ve ever tried to get insurance for something, jewellery or your house, you know that the insurer needs an appraisal; they need to know how much it’s worth. To appraise something means to assesses it’s value.
Jesus tells the story of a man, who discovered a treasure, hidden in a field. That man covered up the treasure, sold everything he had and bought the field. Everything else he had was worthless compared to the hidden treasure.
The truth of God's gift, is our hidden treasure. This special gift, a mystery revealed to us, the prophecy foretold in creation, a day when the Deliverer will come, it arrives this season for us to remember.
What are we willing to give to obtain the treasure? And once we get it, will we hold on to it?
In a season where we wait expectantly, advent comes to us in our current season, quite unexpectedly. Whether we are ready, or not, like Elizabeth and Mary, we sit in the middle of our regular lives and find advent come upon us, brightly shining into our lives, changing our perspective from what was, to what is to come.
The normal life for us may be the cooking, baking and gift purchasing, decorating, concerts and cards. It may include caring for aging parents, tending the needs of sick children-with prayers to not spend Christmas in hospital, broken relationships - causing us to wonder who will even come to our family celebrations. We may be plagued with guilt, shame and despair. We may be too busy to even notice.
And advent arrives; here, right now, in the midst of today, whatever this day holds for you.
And it is valuable to us today.
In C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, we read in The Silver Chair, about the children, Jill and Eustace who come back to Narnia on a mission to find the missing prince. Aslan tells Jill 4 signs that she is to remember, which will help them accomplish their mission. But the cold, snow and frustrating circumstances along their journey distract her from remembering the signs, and before long, she has forgotten them.
It is so easy to be distracted by our circumstances and forget to remember.
The Israelites were a people, chosen by God, delivered out of a life of slavery and into a land that was promised them. A people chosen. A people delivered.
They were eye witnesses to God’s power. Miracle after miracle He made Himself known to them. The separation of a sea, so they could take a shortcut. A spring of water in the desert, coming from a rock. A cloud in the sky, to lead them along the way, turned to fire in the sky at night.
An amazing journey it must have been.
But they forgot to remember. They forgot, while Moses was on the mountain, of the God who had made Himself known to them, by His powerful hand. They lost sight of what they were doing in the desert, of God’s promise, of His faithfulness, and chose to worship an idol instead of holding onto faith in Yahweh, the One who delivered them.
We celebrate Advent this year, remembering God’s faithfulness to us because we are faithless.
When I read the story of the Israelites, I feel anguish and judgement over them. After seeing God’s powerful hand move to deliver them, how could they so quickly return to their mindset of slavery?
I have only to remember my own faithlessness, my own doubt, the times when I have fixed my eyes on what is seen instead of on what is unseen; when I have trusted myself, more than His Word..and suddenly I am where they were, standing at the foot of the mountain, losing faith, forgetting the works of His mighty hand when He delivered me.
In Ephesians 2:12-13 we read, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
We were separated, we were without God, hopeless and lost. As we remember Christ this advent, we remember that we were far from Him but that God, in His faithfulness to us, made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. He shone light into darkness; brought freedom instead of slavery; won life out of death.
And the danger is that even in our freedom, we can lose sight of Him.
It’s why Paul reminds us in Galatians “it is for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). We must stand firm. In this season of advent, as our schedules get busy and the to-do lists run long, to remember the freedom Christ has won for us, when we did not deserve it; when we are destined to fail again and again.
So we remember His faithfulness to us.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22-23
In our weakness, He is strong.
Our help comes from the Lord.
He is our strength and our shield.
He will never leave or forsake us.
This Advent, remember that God is faithful to you.
His faithfulness is nothing like you have ever known. A baby in a manger, the great
King born in human body, the sacrificing Savior obedient to death, to bring us the gift, the treasure of salvation and hope for eternity.
How has God delivered you? Have you remembered that today?