I decided to participate in the Advent study which has been beautifully provided by an incredible community of women that call themselves She Reads Truth. While I grew up Catholic and found the saving grace of Jesus when I was sixteen, I've never understood nor participated in Advent before now. What's crazy to me is that this is totally my thing--studying, meditating and preparing for a big celebratory event like the birth of my Savior is completely my bag. So how I've gone so long without this I'm not sure.
After studying yesterday's chosen passages, I came away with a full heart and wide, love-filled eyes. Man does God love us! His Word proves this time and time again. I thought I'd share some of the insight in the hopes that it could start a conversation, if even just between you and the Lord.
"The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light;
those who live in a dark land,
the light will shine on them.
You shall multiply the nation;
You shall increase their gladness;
they will be glad in Your presence
as with the gladness of harvest,
as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You shall break the yoke of their burden,
and the staff on their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
as at the battle of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child will be born to us,
a Son will be given to us;
and the government will rest on His shoulders;
and His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."- Isaiah 9:2-7
"The people who walked in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them." Upon reading this verse I couldn't help but begin to ponder what my life would look like today if I didn't have Jesus. If the Son of God hadn't been made fully man and fully God and completed the joy set before Him in taking on the punishment for all sin, what would my day to day look like? Feel like? Seem like to others? See, I know what my life looked like before Jesus, some thirteen years ago, but what would it be like today, at 29? Friends, this is a scary thing to think about and is also a glorious thing to think about because, glory be to God, those things cannot amount to anything more than a thought! Hallelujah!
"... you shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide their spoils." He came not only to pay our penalty--but to replace fear, guilt, shame, temptation and frailty with an ever-increasing supply of gladness. As I read these words my brain began to hurt because I began to travel down the path of fathoming (or trying to anyways) the reality that the joy I will experience in the times to come will be greater still than the joy and gladness I've already experienced thanks to Jesus. Does that make sense? We think ahead to our futures and comprehend a degree of joy will come our way in various seasons, and even in the day-to-day mundane. But according to this verse, we have a greater amount of gladness awaiting us because His nature is for the joy He brings to do nothing but grow. Am I the only one who can't not smile about this?!
"For you shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian." We punish ourselves. We shame ourselves. To the degree that our physical form is altered. Check out the typical American's posture--you could almost imagine a staff across their shoulders. While there may not be physical weight, there might as well be the weight of the world. It's like when a person has lost a limb or a part of their body and they begin to have phantom pains. We are so used to living with something, and when it's gone we keep on going and feeling and living as if it weren't. The same is true of the staff given to us by our oppressor to weigh us down. But right now, I can sit up straight, draw my shoulders down and back, let my head soar high above my shoulders allowing my neck to un-bury itself, and truly stand up tall--because that rod was busted a long time ago. For real though, can I please get some sort of amen on that one?!
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
Humor me for a second-
Wonderful: Extraordinary--hard to understand
Counselor: To advise, consult, give counsel, purpose, devise, plan
He is our extraordinary advisor. He gives us a purpose and plan that might sometimes be hard to understand but is always extraordinary.
Mighty: Strong, mighty, strong man, brave man, mighty man
God: God, one true God, Jehovah, strength, power
He is our brave Jehovah. He is our Mighty Strength. He is our Strong God, complete in power and truth.
Eternal: Perpetuity, for ever, continuing future-- ancient (past time), for ever (future time)-- of continuous existence
Father: Head or founder of a household, producer, generator, of benevolence and protection, ruler or chief
He is our continual Protector. He has been and always will be the Head--this position will never be eliminated. His role as your protector and ruler will continually exist--it will never fade or disappear. Many fathers disappear from their roles, but Jesus never will--He cannot. He is eternal.
and now my favorite one...
Prince: Leader, captain, warden, head, overseer
Peace: Completeness, safety, soundness, welfare, health, quiet, contentment, friendship and peace (from war)
He is the Captain of our Completeness. Do you get that? His charge, His aim, His job, is bringing us true peace: contentment, safety, soundness, quiet, friendship... He is the overseer of these things in our lives and Jesus came to be called the Prince of Peace because His passion is to show us what true completeness, welfare, health, quiet, safety and soundness looks like. He guards these things as a warden guards his prison. He is the ultimate decider or His peace, and He chooses to give it to us.
Please take a moment and let those titles sink in. We read them and only digest what we know of each word--but once you open them up to their entire meaning His role and the reason why He came becomes ridiculously bigger.
"There will be no end to the increase of His government or of His peace..." His rule in our individual lives, and over this falling world, is doing nothing but increasing. The peace He offers is doing nothing for us but increasing. It's growing. It's becoming greater. and greater. and greater.
As you prepare this advent season know that He didn't just come to carry our burden of sin. He came for so much more and He deserves all adoration and praise for each and every thing as He reveals them to us.
If you'd like to follow along with the She Reads Truth community PLEASE jump in. You will be blessed. They can be followed on instagram and you can easily download their app on both iOS and Android.