This Advent I’m delighted to bring you a variety of voices – authors, pastors, theologians, and philosophers – each of whom has a unique and beautiful take on a particular passage of Scripture related to the Advent season.
My prayer is that these reflections would help guide your devotional life as you participate in this season of holy waiting.
Without further ado, let’s continue, with a reflection taken from author Alicia Akins.
Perseverance * An Advent Epistle by Alicia Akins
An Advent Epistle (Letter)
Held fast wanderers, long in troubles but short in strength: grace and peace to you from our ever victorious savior Jesus Christ who has set his heart on you.
Thanksgiving + Prayer
I thank God for you. For your perseverance through trial stokes the embers of my belief. Though limping and weary, you stay in the race and I, moved by your witness, step again and again toward Jesus. Your hoarse voice, worn knees, and vigilant watch remind me not that God is absent, but that he will come fill empty hands with his gifts of comfort and grace. Dear ones, remember: the long promised one comes. For who has a god so near to them as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him (Deut 4:7)? I pray that we, at the first tear of our hearts (Psalm 34:18), the first sign of danger, the first tug of temptation (1 Cor 10:13), will know that he is nigh and that in his bosom all sympathy and strength are found.
God ran before us
Are any of you faint? During this season of expectation, let us recall the manner in which our rescue first came. The mighty one came in weakness as a vulnerable babe. The majestic one came with no beauty to attract us (Isa 53:2). Wisdom embodied came and grew in wisdom (1 Cor 1:24, Luke 2:52). The holy one came embedding himself among the common and profane. The glorious one came seeking not his own glory but the lost (John 8:50, Luke 19:10). The avenging one came not defending himself but taking blows meant for us (Isa 53:5, Mark 14:44, 1 Peter 2:23). The sinless one came and became sin for our righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). The eternal one came marked from birth for slaughter.
His race, dear ones, was run for you—to gather you to himself though bruised unblemished. He came and lived the life we couldn’t live so we, through him, could live lives beyond the far reaches of our imagination. He ran that we might run and that we might run as him, run through him and run after him. Friends, is it likely he went to such lengths before to abandon us now to defeat? Will he who fought for us fight no more? Or will he who began a good work complete it?
God runs within us
Let us consider now that not only did he run before us, but he runs within us. Does scripture not say that God gave us hearts of flesh and etched his law on them that we could know him (Eze 36:26, Jer 31:33)? That he circumcised our hearts that we could love him (Deut 30:6)? That he put his Spirit in our hearts that we may walk in his ways (Ezekiel 36:27)? That he placed the fear of him in our hearts that we might not turn from him (Jeremiah 32:40)? And that he dwells in us to give life to our decaying frames (Romans 8:11)? This treasure lies within us as sure as a liver or a lung and will sustain us to the end. All this is ours and we are his. So do not shrink back, dear ones. God abides in us and has freed us to run.
Run after God
Pursue Christ though your strength may be small. He is the aim of our running. In affliction, hardship, and distress, let us remember his tender mercies and run after him, laying aside every encumbrance by his resurrecting power at work within us. Do not run aimlessly, but even if you should come as babes young on their legs, put one foot before the other in the direction of Christ. For he alone is our peace and our pleasure, our comfort and cure.
There is much more I could say to you but the time is short. I pray that you would be encouraged by the testimony of the saints and that you would find respite in God’s steadfast love. As you gather together this season, may sharing stories of God’s deliverance spur you each on toward faithfulness. May the communal breaking of bread bind you together to carry each others’ burdens. May the hymns and songs and prayers and confessions raised in chorus massage these truths into the deep tissue of your souls and may no one’s memory be curtailed by loneliness or silent struggle.
Finally, dear ones, cling to his words of promise. They are not empty words to you, but words of life to sustain you to the end (Deut 32:47). For in them there is no warning for the weary but for those whose hearts turn away in the drought. But you are born of imperishable seed (1 Pet 1:23). You need not fear the heat nor fret over parched ground (Jer 17:8); in Christ you will not fail to bear fruit for he abides within you to keep your leaves green even now. He is your confidence, your race, and your very great reward. Hold fast to him because he holds fast to you.
As my fellow servant Jude one proclaimed, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
Alicia Akins is a writer and recovering expat based in DC. She is a student at RTS and serves as a deaconess in her church, Grace DC Downtown. You can find more of her writing at www.feetcrymercy.com and follow her on Twitter.