Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent: watching (preparation)

Many people focus on preparation for advent during week 2. Waiting is watching and preparing. Waiting is moving forward, not sitting paralyzed.  We prepare for the Lord's birth, we prepare for God's answers and provision in our lives. We prepare ourselves for His return.

That is why I really enjoyed this article on watching and waiting from Intervarsity (a campus ministry).

Here's a portion of this article that hit home for me:

So – how to watch well?

•Being prepared. The women of the parable of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins (Matt 25) show us the importance of being prepared. The five wise virgins have enough oil to get them through the night. When the bridegroom arrives, they can arise, trim their lamps, and go out to meet him. As you wait, what “oil” do you need to stock up on to make it to the end?

•Expectancy vs. expectations. If we let them, our expectations might cause us to miss the very thing we are watching for! Our expectations make us believe that things can only happen in one way. When that doesn’t happen, we are disappointed. But chances are, we were looking in the wrong direction. Living in expectancy means that we believe that God will act, but we know that his action might come in a surprising way, so we are open to whatever it is that comes – not just what we expect. After all, who expected that God would show up as a helpless baby?

•Watch out! Be on your guard! As we wait, there will be things that come our way that we were not looking for, don’t need, and are not good for us. Jesus tells his disciples to “Watch out for the [teaching] of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt 16). We will hear things that are not true, things that are lies. We need to be prepared to reject those things! A lie we are especially susceptible to when we are waiting is the lie, “God doesn’t really love you.” Waiting for long periods of time tempts us to doubt that God does care for us. As you wait, be assured that God does love you and will fulfill his promises to you!

•Keep doing what you’re doing. It might be tempting to drop every thing, press your face to the window, and gaze into the distance waiting for that promise to arrive. You might be tempted to talk about nothing else. Every waking moment, every thought and effort, we may believe, needs to be devoted to the coming fulfillment. But it turns out that waiting and watching well most often means continuing to do what we were already doing. The shepherds were “keeping watch over their flocks by night” – that is, they were doing their job. Peter and Andrew, James and John were fishing when the call came. This is God’s modus operandi: He shows up in the mundane, the everyday, the unspectacular. Doing what you’re already doing – writing papers, waiting tables, going to class, feeding the baby, washing dishes – a whole host of boring, everyday tasks – could very well be the place where God shows up. Are you watching for him?

Isn't this true in life? That God often shows up in a way we don't expect??? at a time we don't expect?  I've had friends wait and long for a baby and then end up having one when they least expected to, or they adopted. I've known a couple different people who had plans for ministry that were changed...they still ended up in ministry but in a different group or on a different mission field.  God showed up, but not how they expected. But what they were called to do in the meantime is the same thing God calls us to do--- while we wait for Him to show up NOW and FOREVER, keep doing what weare doing. I love that the author says God shows up in the mundane.  Keep studying, keep working, keep worshiping, keep hanging out with friends, keep being involved in ministry, keep changing diapers, just keep doing.

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