Gracia Gilbertson loves the Lord, her builder husband, and their two sons fiercely. She loves sharing faith with friends, new and old, over a cup of coffee. She works as a writer, interior designer, and office manager for her husband’s business. After many years living in Lake Stevens, she and her husband recently moved to Leavenworth, Wa.
With a winter storm warning issued today here in the mountains of Leavenworth, my mind is beginning to think ahead to December. Getting my hair cut and highlighted several days ago, the music station my stylist had on was playing non-stop Christmas music. Thoughts of the coming Advent season began to flood my mind.
Growing up, I would say my parents made a bigger deal about Advent, than just Christmas itself. As soon as Thanksgiving was over, my mother would make an advent wreath out of floral foam and fresh greens, with 4 candles inserted around it. Advent means “coming”, preparing for the coming of Jesus in the flesh. Each Sunday before Christmas, a candle was lit and my dad would read scripture that addressed the meaning of each candle; Hope (as foretold by the prophets), Faith (symbolized by Bethlehem), Joy (as proclaimed by the Shepherds), and Peace (as proclaimed by the Angels).
Our Advent wreath
When you really think about it and ponder the Incarnation – God coming as a person – you can’t help but be in wonder. That God would want to come to earth as a humble, vulnerable, human baby is pretty mind blowing and hard to grasp. As Eugene Peterson worded it in the Message bible, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” I love how he worded this verse!
When you really think about it and ponder the Incarnation – God coming as a person – you can’t help but be in wonder.
Years ago, my husband and I attended a Leadership Retreat at Malibu, Young Life’s camp in British Columbia. The main speaker for the evening was an older gentleman whose name I have forgotten. But, I have never forgotten his message. He had been asked to speak about the Incarnation of Christ, a favorite topic of his. As he spoke, he shared a story, a word picture, to help us grasp in a small way the meaning of the incarnation. The story came from a book titled, “Mortal Lessons, Notes on the Art of Surgery,” by Richard Selzer, a surgeon. The paraphrased story is this:
The surgeon had just performed surgery on a young woman to remove a tumor in her cheek. During the surgery, he had to cut a facial nerve, the one with muscles to her mouth. Her mouth is now twisted, almost clownish. Her husband is in the recovery room with her as she asks for a mirror. Looking at her mouth, she asks the surgeon, “Will my mouth always be like this?”. “Yes,” the surgeon says, “it will. It is because I had to cut the nerve to extract the tumor.” She nods, then is silent. But her young husband smiles and says, “I like it. It is kind of cute.” Unmindful of the surgeon in the room, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and the surgeon notices that he twists his mouth to accommodate hers, to show her that their kiss still works.
In much the same way the young husband chose to alter his mouth so he could kiss his wife’s disfigured one, so Christ altered himself to come in the flesh to accommodate us…to be known by us. He came to seek us, to find us, in all our mess, to bring us the good news of a Savior. His coming had been predicted for hundreds of years, yet He didn’t come in a way that anyone expected. As Jon Bloom, a favorite writer of mine said,
Have you ever stopped to ponder just how strange everything about the birth of Jesus was? Whatever people had imagined the coming of the Messiah to look like, no one imagined it to look like it did. In all that he reveals to us about that strange first Christmas, God is saying some very important things to us about how he wants us to view the perplexing, bewildering, glorious, frustrating, fearful, painful, unexpected, disappointing, and even tragic experiences of our lives. No one really understood all that was going on as God the Son entered the world. No one really saw the big picture—no one except God.
So, though he did not come as people expected him to come, he did come as God had promised. As Tim Keller says, “God may often appear slow, but he never forgets his promises. He may seem to be working very slowly or even forgetting his promises, but when his promises come true, (and they will come true), they always burst the banks of what you imagined. This is one of the main themes of the nativity, and indeed the Bible. “
If you are like me, and have been longing for an answer to prayer that seems slow in coming, let’s remember to hold onto the promises we find in God’s word. When in the midst of a trying time, I often ask God to show me a specific verse, a promise to claim, so I can write it down, memorize it, and pray it back to Him. As the theme verse of the Anchor says in Hebrews 6:19 says, we can place our hope in Him, in His word, as an anchor to our souls, firm and secure.
Let’s remember that we cannot see the big picture of what God is doing in response to our prayers, but we can be assured that he hears us and will act. And, in the meantime, in the waiting, we know that God is our Immanuel, God with us.
Christmastime brings us together in celebration of Jesus’ birth and the exchange of gifts has been a prominent part of that tradition. Keeping in line with this practice, we are asking if you would prayerfully consider giving a special gift to our “RAISE THE ANCHOR” campaign to help us continue to bring hope to women everywhere.
Now that our blog has officially launched (wow!) we’ll be sharing more content with you each week. Check your inbox on Tuesday mornings for content that will inspire you and grow your hope in Jesus, such as:
Articles from founder and director Katie Robertson
Posts featuring the Anchor Truths (with free phone backgrounds and art prints!)
Guest articles and videos from women anchored in their faith
Content to uplift you, encourage you, and help you anchor yourself in the hope of Jesus
We can’t wait to make the vision of The Anchor Blog a reality!