Category Archives: Advent
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it. ~John 1:5 NLT
Three angels perched on our lawn. They were all a little forward leaning, tethered by rope and peg against the grade of the hillside which tugged them and threatened to topple them. But they stood sturdy and stalwart, against rain, snow, sleet and high wind. As the world waited for the Christ child, they stood their ground. Halo’s aloft, they each held fast to an item and presented it before them. Two of them held books — hymnals or Bibles, we could never be sure — while the middle one held the light, a special candle with a flickering bulb.
Each angel we inscribed with a name, specifically, one of the names of our three daughters. Not to proclaim that they were angels, but rather to designate which wings went with which body when we pieced them together each year and made ready to place them on the lawn. Our two oldest daughters held the books while our youngest was singled out to hold the light. This responsibility she took to heart. The light she held shone in the darkness all night until the rays of the morning quenched it.
Until one year, upon returning from the Christmas Eve service, we noticed that the little angel’s light was not lit. On closer examination we discovered that the bulb had not gone out: it was missing. Someone had stolen the angel’s light. Big tears rolled down our little girl’s cheeks. Yes, because an unkindness had been done and a theft had been committed, but most of all because the little angel, her little angel, could not present the light of Christ.
In this tiny, earth-shattering moment our small daughter saw that the forces of darkness in this world are real and they are on a mission to extinguish the light. Her world would never be the same. As I hugged my teary child, searching for words of explanation as comfort, her dad knew just what to do. He raced into the house and emerged a moment later holding a small box with a replacement bulb. We held our breath as he screwed it back into place and the light was restored. Our daughter beamed with joy.
The light shone in the darkness; darkness did not extinguish it.
We are in a babbling time, even a blabbering time.
So much assaults our ears, our minds, our tendencies. There is so much to get our hackles up over, to take sides on, to gossip about and share with our friends.
Enough already. This mobile device I have in my pocket has its uses, but somehow our consulting it has turned us against one another. Our rampant googling presumes to make us each an authority over the other. Somehow the fingertip availability of the internet has succeeded in garbling our words, as we climb one upon the other in order to shout the loudest from the tallest point.
There is something very wrong, yet very familiar, about this. It has me consulting Genesis 11:1-9 where I read the troubling story of the tower of Babel.
“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”Genesis 11:1-9 NIV
Are we in our own tower of Babel time? In these days, have we become so engrossed in our “connecting” through the internet and “building” relationships online that we are failing to see and hear what’s true, what’s noble, what’s right, what’s pure, what’s lovely, what’s admirable, and all that is excellent and praiseworthy in our midst? (from Phil 4:8) Because this is what we are charged with doing. And what’s more, these things are what are meant to shape our thinking, and convict or confirm us in our doing.
So, if all of this babbling is distracting me from my purpose, then I had best set aside the shouting going on around me and attend to the whisper within me that says, “You know Me. I am here. Talk to Me. Confirm with Me. Ask questions of Me.”
The best way I know to do this I have set to writing in, Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies.* God has given me this life and this body in which to live it. God expects better from me, and I believe, better from all of us tuned into the God channel.
Today, God has reminded me, Wendy, if you’re having a problem with the way your world is working, you hold in your hands the way I have given you to come and find me again. Get out that book of yours and the Book of mine and let’s work our way through it.
Friends, will you join me for Made to Move online? I will post the writings and welcome daily comments at the blog on my author website. (https://wendylebolt.com/) We’ll kick off this Sunday! Let’s gather there and leave the babble on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the others behind.
*Learn more about Made to Move and order print or digital versions here.
J.K. Rowling first dreamed up Harry Potter in 1990, while on a train from Manchester to London. She finished the story in 2007 with the final book in the seven novel epic. Now, that’s a long story. Those who followed it all the way to its conclusion were held in suspense until the very last pages. We were all surprised by the ending — all of us, that is, except J.K. Rowling. She clearly had planned it all from the very beginning; she always knew how it would end.
This is the wonder of a great story and the gift of the great storyteller. They plot everything precisely and then make us wait for the surprise ending. While we wait, our anticipation grows, preparing us for the BIG finish! In the end, what we couldn’t possibly have imagined happening surprises us, and we’re completely gob-smacked by the satisfaction we feel. If we had skipped ahead to the conclusion, it would be empty. We’d have an ending, but no resolution.
It’s tempting in today’s world to want to fast forward things. Our technology and consumer conveniences make it possible to skip the lines, avoid the traffic, and tape the game so we can fast forward through the commercials. Stories aren’t meant to be experienced this way. They take their time, just like our lives do. That’s a good thing, right? Who wants to rush to the end?
But really, why not? If what God has promised is so much better than what we’ve got, why not fast-forward us to the good part? Perhaps because the God who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine (Eph 3:20), is still working on us.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20
God, the great storyteller, is telling His story by His power that is at work within us. For the satisfying resolution to make sense to us, we have to read all the way through to our last page.
We’re not meant to jump to the end of our lives without reading the middle parts. Something of God grows up in our lives as we learn to lead them. It will allow us, with all the Lord’s holy people, to stand before the love of Christ that is so much more than anyone could ever ask or imagine and find ourselves completely filled by it. (Eph 3: 14-20) Hard to believe, right?
Definitely. Yet, if Ms. Rowling had told me in Book 3 how Harry’s story would end, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have believed it either. It took four more books to develop the breadth of things which ushered me into the only ending that made sense.
So, even though from my vantage point on this side of my life story, the path to a happy ending may look narrow and perilous, to the God who conceived, wrote and is still writing it, it’s a broad expanse. It’ll take a lifetime’s filling of His Spirit for me to see and believe just how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for me. Surprise!!
Perhaps this is what the late Steve Jobs saw on his deathbed as he uttered his last recorded words: “Oh Wow. Oh Wow. Oh Wow.” Can you imagine what would make an inventor, creator, and visionary like Jobs say that? Yeah, me neither. Guess we’ll just have to wait.