I’m awake six minutes before my alarm. Typically this would frustrate me so bad. I had prayed God would guard my devotional time and here we are, another morning with my youngest wanting to start the day just when I want space and quiet to start the day my way. As the bottle warms, I light a candle on the stove. I turn the page on the Advent calendar and read, “The promise of Light.”... and smile.
And when he unsuccessfully goes back down for the morning, I shuffle him out in the dim dark, trying to not wake up his big brother. I lift the Noah’s Ark from the shelf and bring it down the steps with us, hoping that something new to play with will distract and keep him occupied while I dive into some study. And instead I watch him at the foot of the tree, playing with Noah and his charges and I think... that’s where all stories start, where they all flow to... the foot of The Tree.
I think back to Sunday, how December first was on the Sabbath and I think what I thought then,... how appropriate that the Advent season start on Sunday. That it starts in church with worship and prayer and thanksgiving. It was a small moment, early as I got up, got ready, drove to church ahead of my family. But it was there. He was there. Found.
In the devotional that I am reading this Advent season, each day ends with a few small but deep digging questions. Today, the question to ask ourselves is what places deep within our souls do we want Christ to find us? To seek us out? And I scribble in my journal about my fears and my rampant anxiety. I write about my striving and my insecurities. And I watch as Travis lays low at the door of the ark to pull out animals and he grasps one, sits up with recognition and goes to find the match across the floor. I felt impressed. Proud. I hadn’t ever seen him match anything like that before.
And then he comes to me. Presses both pieces into my hand and they burn. Literally burn into my palm.
Tears poke at my eyes and I just stare. He moves on and I’m sitting there in the too-big recliner with two wooden snakes in my hand and it hurts. The question comes loud, “What lies are you believing?” I drop them onto the seat next to me as though they were burning coals, boring salt into an open wound.
Today’s reading, the next day in the Jesse Tree, was all about the Fall. Of Adam and Eve hiding and hovering, naked and shy. Fearful. Full of anxiety. Not wanting to be found, but oh please, oh please, find.
Sometimes in all our striving, all we want is to be seen.
In our doing, we just want someone to let us be undone.
When we’re going too fast, we want someone to protect us, tell us to slow.
In darkness, we want that shaft of light.
Sometimes we think we need the big. Something dramatic to turn the tide. To deal us another hand. To be the game changer. We need something remarkable, something dreamy, a Hail Mary with two seconds left on the scoreboard. We tend to believe we need this and that to be whole. To find God. To make it all make sense.
And then He’s there. In all the miniatures. In the minutia.
In the manger.
He didn’t come big and loud and with a ten-point sermon. He didn’t come to us in a way we couldn’t understand. There was dark, and then there was light. Period. There was always darkness, will always be black, but there was and is and will always be.... Light.
And I can do my darndest to get up at 5 a.m., pray for God to protect my time with Him... and I can get aggravated when the baby wakes or doesn’t sleep or I wake up with a pounding headache and I can’t even stand to read the words on the page. I can feel gipped. Cheated. Ignored. Unimportant.
Or I can choose to see Him in the small.
In a strand of lights, reminding me of the Lifeline that will never grow dim or go out. In the way the moose nightlight from the hall casts a glow into the room as I change a diaper. In the way two wooden toy snakes in my hand remind me to not believe the lies.
A baby sitting at the foot of a tree, pointing the way...
"I have made,
and I will bear;
I will carry,
and I will save."
~ I s a i a h 4 6 : 4 a
"What hope we hold this starlit night
a King is born in Bethlehem
Our journey long, we seek the light
that leads to the hallowed manger ground.
... four-hundred years can He be found
but broken by a baby's cry
rejoice in the hallowed manger ground...
here to dwell..."
~ Chris Tomlin