We started our Advent reading three days before Advent even started. Before you call us a holy bunch, the truth is we’ve never completed 24 consecutive days of Advent reading ever and I wanted to give us a head start.
So, on the third day of reading, but the first day of Advent, I was feeling pretty confidant.
Then I got out of bed.
And the third first day of Advent kicked my butt.
Do you ever just stop and look at your life and think, “What a big fat mess?” I mean, not my life, life, but my current situation. I had 5 baskets of laundry in various stages around my dirty house because opening a retail store and hosting 30 non profit leaders, traveling for Thanksgiving, and staying on top of homeschooling teens means I can’t even find my washing machine. We might not have clean underwear, but I did get my tree up.
But no matter how hard I tried to tidy up the messes I could see, I couldn’t sweep away bad attitudes and angry outbursts. I couldn’t mend tears of lost friendships and fears over uncertain futures. I couldn’t stop myself from picking a fight with my husband and I couldn’t find the energy to take one step towards him to reconcile. I lost my mind (and temper) over one kid being so far behind in schoolwork and grounded my other kid for lying to me. And when I discovered my third child was having as sinful a day as the rest of us, I cried.
I thought of my own struggle to live a holy life as satan wrapped his lies around my heart. I heard that lying snake whisper in my ear, “Your family is a mess. You are a mess. You’re not ahead in anything. You are lost.”
Yeah, it was that kind of day.
By the time we sat down for dinner, everything felt broken. We were lost and we had fallen again.
We ate, mostly in silence. My youngest had her weekly dance class and the clock was pressing, pressing. I grabbed the Advent book that was in the middle of our kitchen table out of habit. I sighed and flipped to the third day on the first day of Advent.
This is what I read, “When we’ve fallen, and when we’re lost, God comes with one question. Not the question “Why did you do that?” Not the question “What did you do wrong?” The very first God-question of the Old Testament, of the whole Bible, is a love question howling out of God’s heart: “Where are you?”
God’s love never stops looking for you, trying to find you, and gently draws you back close to Him.
Because of His unconditional, unbeatable, unfailing, unwrappable love, your God refuses to give up on you. Your God looks for you when you’re lost. Your God calls out for you when you’re ashamed and broken and hurting. God doesn’t run down the rebel. God doesn’t strike down the sinner. God doesn’t flog the failure.
Whenever you fall, whenever you fall short, whenever you sin, your God whispers to you with a love that wraps around you like a gentle arm: “Wherever you are, I will always come find you. Whatever you’ve done, I will always keeps looking for you until My eyes see you, till My hands of healing reach you, till I can hold you close again to My heart….
Sometimes you can almost feel it, when you fall, He comes and unwraps that lying, stealing snake from your feet and wraps His arm around you–and you unwrap the very greatest gift: a love that never, ever lets you go.”
Except by the 4th line, the page was blurry and I couldn’t stop the tears. I passed the book to my husband and looked at every precious face at the table as he read the words, a balm over us as we treasured the thought that God was looking for us, even after such a bad day.
And for once, I was thankful we were ahead in our reading because He always knows where to find us.