Advent - A Season for Reflecting
Updated: Dec 23, 2020
A few mornings each week I get up long before the sun rises and meet up with friends to go for a run. Lately, the path we have chosen takes us around a neighborhood lake. Although it was quite cold on the mornings we ran last week, the air was calm and the water on the lake was perfectly still. As we jogged around a particular bend, I noticed a reflection in the water across the lake. A light shining on a small grove of trees caused the water to become a mirror in which the detail of the branches could be clearly seen. The clarity of the reflection was created by the stillness of the water.
Advent is a season for reflecting. A season that beckons us to quiet our minds and open our souls in order to take a long, reflective look - at both God and ourselves. Living a reflective life with God calls for more than a passing glance. Reflective living requires us to be still and to wait with patience. Waiting with our toes tapping and fingers drumming is like looking at a reflection in rippling water. The reflection is distorted. Just as a reflection can’t be seen at the base of a waterfall, there are things of God that cannot be discerned apart from stillness in His presence. Stillness in the light of His presence offers a clearer image of who He is and of who we are in Christ.
Psalm 46:10 (ESV) is a familiar passage of scripture, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Message says it this way, “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” I appreciate those words, “Take a long, loving look at me, your High God...above everything.” In this season of Advent the Lord invites us to be still, to wait, to know what cannot be known about Him apart from stopping to take a long, reflective, and loving look at Him.
In addition to reflecting on God in this season, we are invited to take a deeper look at ourselves - and that reflection must be contemplated in the light of His presence. Let’s be honest, there is a reason that we avoid waiting in stillness with God - a reason that has nothing to do with how busy we are. When we slow down and stop long enough to take a look at ourselves, we often do not like what we see. So, we move away quickly. I wonder what would happen if we were to linger a little longer? Long enough to wait on God, get past our flawed observations, and listen for the voice of God to speak through what we see. Might we long for more of the presence of God with us? Might we long to reflect more deeply on what we notice - and thereby see ourselves in the light of God’s loving gaze upon us?
Often, my thoughts about what God sees of me are a reflection of my own shame. I focus on my flaws and shortcomings - who I am not, and who I think I should be. I want to turn away from the reflection and run away from the pain. But if I stay still. If I wait patiently and listen deeply for the voice of God to rise above the clamor of negative thoughts and the shaming voice of the accuser, I begin to hear the truth of who I am in the Lord. I hear the voice of the one who loves me. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)
When I see myself reflected through His love, an intense longing for more of Him grows. I yearn for more of His presence to inform a greater understanding of who He is, of who I am in the light of His love, and of how He desires me to reflect His love and grace to the world around me.
Yes, Advent is a season to prepare my heart to celebrate God’s coming as Christ the Messiah - the Light of the World. It is also the season in which I anticipate His long-awaited Second Coming - as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And Advent is a season in which I continue to seek ways to incarnate the life of Christ - to be His love, His grace, His hands, and His feet to the shattered, the seeking, the hungry, and the desperate He places in my path.
Are you willing to wait in the presence of God today, reflect on Him, on yourself in the light of His love and grace, and then yearn to be moved into action as His loving presence in the shattered places and people around you? What is one simple way today that you will receive His love for yourself and then offer it to another? Be encouraged to wait with Him, to long for Him, and to reflect with Him.