According to Christian calendars, today marks the first day of Advent. This is a period of expectant waiting for the celebration of the birth of Christ.
I was excited to begin reading Mary Geisen’s book this morning,
In her book she reflects on the time of advent,
During the four weeks, we have the opportunity to slow down in an effort to focus on what is truly important. Everyone is invited into this space to get rid of the clutter in our lives and replace it with Jesus.Mary Geisen
This quote struck me. Yesterday, the kids and I spent time clearing out clutter in our living room in order to make space for our Christmast tree and decorations.
My middle son took over the job of stringing the Christmas lights up outside, while the younger two sat by me as I went through stacks of old movies, books, and papers that were taking up precious space in our living area.
That extra clutter was an eye sore. It often distracted me from important tasks as I had to muddle my way through the clutter to find that which I actually needed. The piles were a heavy weight.
This morning, I saw clean space. Cleared tables and floors with just special things on top like plants and a Bible. The decorations haven’t come out yet, but I did string new lights on our “pre-lit” Christmas tree.
The physical presence of clutter was gone, and the beauty of space and lights replaced it.
I then went to the Lord to ask Him to clear my heart of the clutter. Clear my heart, Lord, of anything that is keeping me from hearing your still, small voice.
God’s Gift of Grace
Last week I had the chance to dive into the topic of grace.
Grace is a word we think we know and understand. We hear and use the word so often.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves; it is the gift of God.Ephesians 2:8
Of course I know what grace is. I have a garden business named after it. I understand that grace is God’s undeserved gift of salvation to me, a sinner.
But do I really?
Do I sometimes think I deserve a favor or a gift because I’ve done something for Him?
My most recent employment oppportunity is that of a Substitute Teacher. There are plenty of stories about that for another time!
This last week, I had a perfect job. A two – day job supervising a small group of high-school students working on various math assignments. Not only did they work very well independently, the teacher I was subbing for had a planning period the last hour of the day.
The secretary told me that if they didn’t need me anywhere else at that time, I was free to go early. Perfect! Not only could I get caught up on all my Bible study prep during the day while the students worked, I would be able to get to my son’s basketball game on time!
Clearing Out My Spiritual Clutter
While I was so grateful to God for allowing me this gift, I almost forgot to see it as a gift of His GRACE.
You see, I began thinking it was sort of a well-deserved gift. I was doing His work after all. It was His way of Him thanking me for my service to Him.
Ugh. It pains me to admit that.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.James 1:17
As I was digging into the concept of grace, I was reminded at how every step of my life has been a demonstration of His abounding, unending, undeserved grace.
He called me to Himself. Grace.
He gave me the desire to grow in knowledge and understanding of Him. Grace.
He has provided people along my path to guide me and direct me in His ways. Grace.
He provided a job that allowed me to do His work AND make it to my son’s game. Grace.
Grace, Grace, God’s Grace. Nothing else. His gift to me, because He loves to give good gifts.
What About the Hard Things?
If I trust that His good gifts are His grace. I also have to trust that the hard, difficult things He allows are also an expression of His grace.
That is harder to comprehend. Everything God allows into our life exhibits His grace.
The job I had a week prior to the one mentioned above also exhibited His grace. This job left me in tears as I got into my car. It was such a hard, difficult day as I saw the lack of respect for authority rear it’s ugly head. All. Day. Long.
This is also His grace. It’s His grace that accepts me and loves me where I am. Yet His love for me, does not allow me to stay where I am. He continues to mold me and make me into the image of His Son, often using those hard, difficult things to do just that. And it often means much more difficult circumstances than difficult students.
So as I cleared out the clutter of self-righteousness, I allowed Him to replace it with His light and beautiful gift of grace.
What spiritual clutter is keeping you from hearing God’s voice? Is it distracting you from experiencing His grace?
I’m looking forward to continuing on in this journey of preparing my heart this advent season.
Here is a link to a song that spoke to me this morning as we wait for our long expected Jesus.
Do you do anything special to celebrate the Advent season?