I’ve been doing the She Reads Truth study on The Beatitudes. It’s one of my favorite passages—and also one that reminds me how much I need Jesus. I started reading these verses in Matthew 5 the day after the election and I’ve been reading them, meditating on them, praying them, and studying ever since.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Right now, I’m failing miserably at everything on this list. Everything. The ugliest parts of me have been on full display over the past few, very stressful, weeks. I’ve been selfish and unkind, harsh and insincere. I’ve been, in many ways, the very worst version of me.
This afternoon, as I was talking with a dear friend about how she could pray for me, I asked her to pray that I wouldn’t “keep score or claim martyrdom” in the midst of a difficult situation. Because, the truth is, those are the two things I’m most likely to do.
But that isn’t who I want to be … that isn’t how I want to live and reflect the God who has given me so much. And so, I drag my dirty mess out and tell a trusted friend the yuckiest truths and I ask her to pray. Because James wrote, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16)
And I need some healing, some cutting away of the flesh so His Spirit can flourish in me.
This Sunday is the first day of Advent. And if I’m honest, I feel a little bit more like Lent. I’m more sorrowful than celebratory. I’m more anxious than anticipatory.
Yesterday I wrote about why I think we need Advent more than ever this year. I sat in Panera and cried as I tapped out words about the world Jesus came into 2000 years ago and how much it really does look like the world we live in today.
Advent isn’t really about counting the days. Ann Voskamp wrote, “It is possible for you to miss it [Advent] … you could wake on Christmas morning only to grasp that you never took the whole of the Gift, the wide expanse of grace.”
What a shame it would be for us to check off everything on our Advent list and miss the true Gift.
I feel a mess this year. I am a mess this year. I’m not ready—not materially and, mostly, not spiritually. I want to come into this season with all my issues settled, all my junk cleaned up. But, here’s the thing, I can’t even …
I can’t even understand all my issues.
I can’t even settle my menu for Thanksgiving, much less my mind and all the whispers and shouts happening there.
I can’t clean up my junk, I can barely keep the kitchen clean.
I’m a mess.
And while it’s not what I want to be, it is what I am.
And I’m finding that’s exactly where God wants me.
In another favorite Advent book, Eugene Peterson wrote, “Christmas forces us to deal with all the mess of our humanity in the context of God, who has already entered that mess in the glorious birth of Jesus.”
Jesus already entered the mess.
He is not shocked or surprised. My junk doesn’t make Him recoil in disgust or walk away in despair. No, Jesus, Emmanuel, the God-Made-Flesh, God WITH us, does the unimaginable—He draws me in. Me with all my baggage and hurts and anxieties and fears. Me with all my mess. He has already entered all this mess and I’m not too messed up for Him to come close.
So maybe this year, you are feeling the weight of your messiness too? Maybe your heart is heavy from grief. Or maybe you’ve experienced some deep wounds and now you just aren’t sure what to do with the hurt you feel. Or maybe, you’re just tired and the idea of Advent feels like yet another item on your to do list, another way you won’t measure up.
Oh friend, I know. Because all of those are 100% true in my life right now.
But here’s the thing, it’s times like these we most need the reminder Advent brings—the joy of His coming 2000 years ago and the hope of His coming again to make all things new.
I want you to know, Advent isn’t about finishing a checklist, it’s an invitation to recover all the wonder and peace that gets lost in the messy and the mundane.
Because sometimes we need to recover what’s lost. And we also need to be re-covered by the gift of a Baby in a manger.
So, wherever this Advent season finds you, my prayer is simply this:
May you find His peace in all your preparations. May you know His presence as you let go of pretense. May you experience His comfort on the crazy hard days. And may the Word-Made-Flesh reveal Himself in the middle of your weariness and worry. May this Advent find you open to His invitation of recovering all that seems lost and forgotten.
Click to download your printable copy of An Advent Prayer.
If you’re looking for Advent resources, may I recommend some of my favorites? The links below are affiliate links which simply means I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you choose to purchase through the links.
The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
God With Us edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe
Come, Lord Jesus by my dear friend Kris Camealy
When God Draws Near which I wrote several years ago
And my generous friends at Dayspring have given my readers a discount code for 25% off and free shipping on everything in their Advent product line. Simply use code ADVENT25 at checkout.