Many times we only think of Advent as a time of preparation for the arrival of Jesus. We block off the four weeks before Christmas and dig into an Advent devotional or book, while hustling to get ready for the holidays. We justify the time spent reading a snippet here or there and call that Advent.

I am that person.

For years, I marked off Advent as a piece of my holiday preparation. Instead of highlighting the significance of the time leading up to Jesus’ birth, somehow I fit it into the already busy frenzy of holiday traditions.

Last week, I shared the invitation we each receive from God to spend time in the waiting space. It involves intentionality, intimacy, and introspection. There is not a one size fits all as we enter the Advent season. While we are drawn into the waiting space, we discover the faith it takes in the wilderness. Waiting in the wilderness casts a shining light on Advent when we acknowledge that the time between Jesus’ birth and His return in the Second Coming as wilderness living.

Before we get too caught up in believing that our time on Earth reflects only wilderness living, let’s take a closer look at what this means.

Priscilla Shirer shares her take on wilderness times in her bible study, One in a Million.

The wilderness is a blessing meant to help us see God more fully and completely, to help us love Him more wholeheartedly, and to show us the importance of committing to Him above all else. The wilderness provides a vital and necessary prerequisite to reaching the spiritual abundance He wants to give. The path through the wilderness is the only route to Canaan.

On this first Sunday of Advent, we embrace a status of hope and look with expectancy toward what is to come. The beginning of this season is the start of our walk toward abundance. Jesus, as a newborn in a manger, is our hope and promise of abundance.

But in this season of fullness and overextension, will our eyes remain focused and our hearts stay open to the reason for the season? Fresh starts signal energy and motivation, but what of the times that overwhelm and overtake our hope–filled senses?

I want to dig deeper as we begin Advent knowing that rose–colored glasses can only extend our vision so far before it becomes cloudy. God desires relationship with us and that does not just include the good times, the easy times, or when everything is going well.

Priscilla Shirer’s description of the wilderness times leads the way to hope. Instead, of looking at the wilderness as empty, a time of waiting, or with a scarcity mindset, I see God at the center and it is good.

What does the wilderness look like for you or mean to you? Do you believe that God’s abundance awaits you on the other side?

 

I am finding that the wilderness place is the tension between what is and what will be. It’s the place where I process what God is teaching me and how He wants me to respond as I move forward. I find the wilderness challenging, frustrating, and ultimately rewarding.

 

Advent is the space that allows us to process our wilderness times, prepare ourselves for what’s next, and learn that abundance waits on the other side.

 

 

Let’s look at the time before Jesus was born. Good news came to Elizabeth via Zechariah, who heard it from the angel, Gabriel. Elizabeth would become pregnant in her old age and birth a son, named John. He was chosen to prepare the way for Jesus. Then Mary was visited by Gabriel, who shared she would become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. Both Elizabeth and Mary lived in a time of waiting as they anticipated the arrival of their sons. (See Luke 1)

If we embrace the wilderness as a time to get to know God more deeply and intimately, as Priscilla Shirer describes so eloquently, then we can connect this same idea to the nine month period of time that Mary and Elizabeth both experienced.

Elizabeth and Mary both lived in the wilderness as they joyfully awaited the birth of their sons. During that time, they longed for what was to come as they praised God for the gift He promised.

 

It is only through the wilderness that any of us reach Canaan–the Promised Land …

the hope of God,

the joy of a life with God,

and the blessing of salvation which is waiting on the other side.

Hope abounds and abundant living is possible.

 

Blessings for the hope of God!

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