Prepare the Way of the Lord
David Nii, Council of Twelve Apostles
He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep. -Isaiah 40:11
A quote is attributed to Jonathan Swift: “The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable, for the happy impute all their success to prudence or merit.” Swift probably was referencing a financial or tangible definition of fortune; however, his quote points out a common misguided perception. Many people believe success and happiness are solely results of their proper actions. Likewise, misery is the condition of undeserving people because of their actions. These assumptions can blind us to the nature of God.
My life as a youth was easy. Food, shelter, clothing, and safety never were prevailing concerns. Participation in school, sports, social life, and family was effortless. Being the youngest of five siblings, I, admittedly, was spoiled. It was fairly easy to celebrate God when I deceived myself into thinking God was on my side more than on others’.
Reality, however, has a way of unveiling our misperceptions. Struggling through college because of personal and external decisions was an awakening. Adulthood brought familiar themes of undeserved gifts, dashed hopes, surprising recognitions, unfulfilled expectations, broken relationships, joy-filled serendipity, financial stress, and pain. Loved ones died too soon. Unforeseen events brought significant life changes. What was God about, then? Was God looking over me with judgment, or was a much deeper life lesson being experienced?
God was about being present. The nature of God is not one of granting blessings and issuing punishments. It is one of merciful presence and comfort in all of life. When we pay attention to life around us, we acknowledge it rains on the just and unjust. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people.
Acknowledging God’s presence and concern for us even when we are not deserving is a transforming experience. God’s care and comfort for us, in easy and in struggling situations, is the divine nature. We don’t control grace. Suffering and pain arise with and without merit. When we surrender ourselves to God’s grace, all of life can be received with gratitude because gifts arise with and without merit. The people of God aren’t more deserving; they are ones who recognize God’s companionship in every step of life. This assurance of companionship is divine comfort. As you wait in the darkness of Advent, may you find comfort and assurance in divine companionship.
“Trust what is being born.”
Jesus, the Peaceful One
We have spent this year with a guiding question: Are we moving closer to Jesus, the Peaceful One? As we near the end of this calendar year, we review how this question has been shaping and forming us. In our thoughts, words, and actions, have we been embodying Jesus, the Peaceful One? What might it look like to move closer to Jesus, the Peaceful One as we make space in our lives for Christ incarnate this Advent season?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.