Editor's note:

Ren­o­varé pub­lished an Advent devo­tion­al in 2013 filled with thought­ful pieces by some of our dear­est friends. One of these is most cer­tain­ly Mimi Dixon, who joins us today to share her med­i­ta­tion on the themes of faith and trust while walk­ing unfa­mil­iar path­ways for the sec­ond week of Advent. 

—Renovaré Team

I nev­er have stepped into my vehi­cle, turned on the engine, and start­ed to dri­ve with­out first hav­ing a clear sense of where I am head­ed. When I plan a jour­ney, I begin with a des­ti­na­tion clear­ly in mind. And I com­mu­ni­cate it to oth­er trav­el­ers. God does not, appar­ent­ly, share the val­ue of this logic. 

Notice how Luke begins the sto­ry of Advent. He describes an old­er cou­ple who have served God faith­ful­ly all their lives, yet been denied the one thing they desired the most: a child. Now, as they near retire­ment, Zechari­ah is vis­it­ed by an angel who announces that God is about to answer their prayers. 

What? Now?! Are you sure? Arent you a lit­tle late?

The scene shifts to a small, obscure vil­lage in the hills of Galilee. The same angel appears to a young girl to announce, Greet­ings, favored one! The Lord is with you. …you will con­ceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. …The Holy Spir­it will come upon you, and the pow­er of the Most High will over­shad­ow you; there­fore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God” (Luke 1:28, 30 – 36). Aston­ished, Mary ques­tions how this can be? In the end, she assents: Let it be with me accord­ing to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Two announce­ments pre­dict­ing two mirac­u­lous births. Eliz­a­beth and Mary begin a jour­ney with nei­ther a clear­ly defined path nor destination. 

It is tempt­ing to think that this approach was out of the norm, but even a cur­so­ry read­ing of God’s sto­ry reveals that this expe­ri­ence is more com­mon than not. Noah bobbed about on an ocean­ic flood,” clue­less as to when his ordeal would end; Paul and a half-starved shipload of trav­el­ers dodged shoals in a storm off the coast of Mal­ta (Gen­e­sis 6 ff.; Acts 27). All they could do was wait it out. Wait, and as it turned out, do one oth­er thing. At Paul’s urg­ing, they broke bread and gave thanks to God. Under the cir­cum­stances, it was a crazy thing to do. But they were strength­ened by this faith­ful act and made it through the long night. As dawn glowed crim­son in the east, the ship shat­tered on a reef, yet all on board made it safe­ly to land. 

In the uncer­tain­ty and sus­pense of not know­ing, we learn to keep our eyes wide open, scan­ning the hori­zon of our expe­ri­ence for evi­dence of God’s lead­ing. Like Noah we may have to do this for a long time before at last a spring sprig sig­nals that there is land ahead. Like Paul and his near-sink­ing boat­load, we would be wise to feast our­selves again and again on signs of promise and hope even as we are tossed about on the sea of not knowing. 

This is the invi­ta­tion we embrace in the sec­ond week of Advent. 

On the one hand, we firm­ly grasp the promise that The one who calls you is faith­ful, and he will do this” (1 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 5:24). On the oth­er hand, we embrace the real­i­ty that God oper­ates well out­side our frame of ref­er­ence. Unlike us, God oper­ates by a dif­fer­ent timetable; God is com­fort­able with chaos; God’s ways are not our ways. 

So, what does it look like for us to walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthi­ans 5:7)? Some years ago, I was con­fused. My min­istry was get­ting nowhere and I didn’t know if I was where God want­ed me to be. I tele­phoned my father to ask, Have I made a mis­take? Have I some­how wan­dered out of God’s will and that is the rea­son for what I am experiencing?” 

My father lis­tened to my sto­ry, and then asked, When you made the deci­sion to be where you are, how did you dis­cern God’s lead­ing? Did you pray about it? Did you seek the coun­sel of god­ly peo­ple? And when you made the deci­sion, did you feel peace about it? Did you expe­ri­ence a deep sense that this was exact­ly what God want­ed you to do? The peace you felt is impor­tant to remem­ber. Let the mem­o­ry of that faith­ful begin­ning sus­tain and guide you now. Know that this tur­bu­lent time will pass. God brought you this far; he will make a way.” 

The angel Gabriel assured Zechari­ah that God would make a way. Gabriel assured Mary that God would make a way: only believe! 

In this sec­ond week of Advent we wait togeth­er for the promise to be ful­filled. We wait with Noah, with Zechari­ah, with Eliz­a­beth, with Mary, with Paul, know­ing with cer­tain­ty that what God has promised will hap­pen. It is inevitable. 

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Starting Soon: The 2020-21 Renovaré Book Club

An inten­tion­al way to read for trans­for­ma­tion not just infor­ma­tion. Runs Sep­tem­ber 2020 through May 2021.

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