Pilgrim Notes

Reflections along the way.

Month: November 2011

Advent – Living Faithful in the Dark

Photo by Eyeline-Imagery. Used by Creative Commons Permission.

An apostate king sits on the throne of an apostate people. Under threat from Jezebel, Elijah runs away and cries out to the Lord.

I’m the only one left!

But he is not alone. In the midst of his groaning, the Lord reveals that there are 7,000 who have not bowed down before Baal. Think about that for a moment.

Israel has been judged and found wanting. The land and the people suffer the wrath of God. In the middle of this dark place and dark age, 7,000 people remain faithful.

As we follow the journey of God’s people across time, we discover hidden, faithful pilgrims struggling to walking in the midst of dark places and dark times. Daniel suffers the judgment on Judah and is thrust into the lair of Babylon. Renamed Belteshazzar, he bears the title of a Babylonian deity.

How does he live faithful to the Lord in an alien land and under the name of an alien god? In this new land, Daniel faces the threat of seduction. Power and privilege are his. How can he remember Jerusalem from the palaces of Babylon?

Like Daniel, the hidden faithful are often called to live in alien places among alien gods. How do we wait? How do we watch? How do we long for the coming kingdom while living in luxuries of alien kingdoms?

The prophets calls us to our true hope, and call us away from false hopes that ultimately enslave. The watching and waiting of Advent are about tuning that hope toward our only hope, the Coming Lord.

As I think of watching and waiting in the land of plenty, I am reminded of a game I learned many years ago from my professor Darlene Graves. She divided us into pairs. One person wore a blindfold and the other person guided the blindfolded person across the room and to the door.

Then we repeated the exercise only this time the guide merely spoke and never touched the blindfolded person. Then we repeated the game again. But this time, Dr. Graves covered the floor with obstacles that could easily trip up the blind folded person. Other voices called out to the blind folded person, trying to distract and confuse. The guide could only whisper. The blindfolded person walked slower and listened carefully, attuning her ears to the whisper.

We listen for the whisper in aliens lands among alien gods. The way may seem clouded and confused. The promised land so far away. Does it still even hold promise for us? The temptation of discouragement may encircles. We may hear the sirens of discontent and fear and anguish. We may hear the call to trust in lesser gods. We may grow weary and lose heart.

When all hope seems lost, our hope rests in His faithfulness, not ours. He alone is faithful. Our Savior also heard the voices of distraction and seduction in the wilderness, in the streets of Jerusalem and even in the Temple. He walked attuned to the voice of His Father.

Even now, He tunes our hearts to His voice, to the gentle rhythm of His grace. Let us look up from these alien places and alien gods. Let us watch and wait for His coming. And let us listen for His call, inviting us to sings songs of love and deliverance over the people and places where we walk.

The World Keeps Turning

Photo by Picture this Patty. Used by Creative Commons Permission.

“The year has known conversion.” – Bobi Jones

The world keeps turning.

Nations, cultures, communities and families are changing. In the past 12 months, several dictatorships have fallen. Economies totter on the verge of collapse. The political world swirls in confusion, disagreement and uncertainty.

The world keeps turning.

We keep moving from birth to death. During this last year, we’ve welcomed new people, new friends, new places and new opportunities in our lives. We’ve also said goodbye to family members, old friends, old places, and old jobs.

The world keeps turning.

We feel the strain of uncertainty displacing us, forcing us to adjust, pressing us into anxious places and clouded paths. The way forward seems unclear, unsure and even unsafe.

The world keeps turning.

We stand on a planet that never ceases to circle. Even when standing still, we cannot stop the turning.

In the tumult of the turning, we find orientation in the One whose Appearing orders all things and all persons. As Augustine once wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

During Advent, the people of God across the ages have looked for the appearing of our rest, our anchor, our peace, our Lord.

In the end, all time turns in to Christ.

Let us turn. Let us join the ages of saints before us who watch and wait for His Appearing. Let us tune into His Word in the heart our turning world.

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