Last Monday was a usual Monday. The Sunday let down had settled into my heart like a summer morning mountain fog. Combating those doldrums, the free day stretched ahead and invited productivity, but I was stuck in the mundane tasks: doing the dishes from Sunday, picking up the clutter, throwing in a load of laundry, making a grocery list. When I finally sat down for some Bible time, I pepped myself to get spiritual. With the approach of Advent, I contemplated how to make the most of it this year, how not to let another year pass with good Advent intentions and little Advent success. But I couldn’t muster up the creativity or the effort. Instead, it just felt like another item to cross off the to-do list.
How do you celebrate a season of anticipation when you lack the effort to anticipate? Weariness has been a constant companion of mine lately. I wear it like tight-fitting long underwear – you may not be able to see it, but it’s right there against my skin, itchy tag and all.
I sat down across from my water-painting son (emphasis on the water and not the paint), with my good friend Oswald Chambers. I lacked even the energy to choose my own scripture, and with Oswald, it’s chosen for me.
Then, like the lifting of fog to reveal blue sky, thanks to my wise friend (the Holy Spirit, not Oswald), it hits me: I don’t have to gear up for a good Advent season. It’s not about my pep and effort. I don’t have to unpack those positive Christmas vibes like ornaments, ready to dust them off, and hang them on my heart. Advent is about waiting. Waiting to receive the Christ child. It’s all of Jesus, and none of me.
After that start to my mundane Monday, I’m ready to summon receive from the Lord, and the focus is him and his work, not me and my spirituality.
The key to a successful Advent season is the focus of our hearts. We need to keep that spiritual effort packed away in the attic, and instead sit in spiritual need as we wait for the promised One.
I certainly have need this year. Need for rest, yes. Need for patience, yes. But mostly, need for newness. I need a new heart. And so I wait, wait for the baby I know will be born, wait for the incarnation to take up residence in my heart and transform the weariness.