I always knew that Advent means “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event” and that for Christians it means “the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays” but I want to share with you what Advent really means to ME this year more than ever.
The past 2 years have been extremely hard for me; I lost one of my best friends, an aunt and one of my grandmothers. It all happened starting on December 2, 2014. Losing a best friend took my heart to a dark place full of anger towards God, asking ‘how can God take her this soon?’. And then right when I finally thought, “ok I will not understand this but I can try to move on”, my aunt got sick and suffered for 77 long days in a hospital before finally dying. Again I was asking, ‘Really God? You really are allowing this to happen?’ And then within a year my grandmother suddenly died too! It was just too much to keep taking and “accepting” that God is in control and allowing this to happen to me and my family!
But life goes on; I continued to do life, serving in our local church, leading committees in my church, taking leadership roles and trying to keep being the best husband and father! BUT my heart was not in the right place and apparently everybody could see it!
During these two years our oldest daughter was exploring the option to go into full-time ministry right after graduating from High School. And it took her those same two years to do the research, apply for the program she wanted and make the decision that YES this is what she wanted to do, to go on a 9 month mission trip around the world visiting 3 countries, 3 months each and partnering to serve with local ministries. She went to training camp for 10 days this past June, (camping in single person tents, eating strange foods without utensils and not showering!) Many of them did not finish the required training and/or decided that this was not for them and decided not to continue. But NOT our daughter; the training just reinforced that she was ready and that this is ALL she wanted to do!
Here comes the REAL hard part in my heart. My Advent story! How would I be OK trusting that God will continue to take care of my daughter who is was soon going to be SO far from home if in the past two years He has allowed so much pain in my heart? I thought, ‘I don’t trust YOU GOD and I am not sure that she will be ok!’ I had many doubts and questions. But the answers came during a three-day weekend before my daughter left for her trip. Her mission organization had a full weekend with parent activities, worship, talks and time with our child specifically designed to HELP us parents to LET our kids GO and trust that God will take care of them! So after two years of doing “life” and believing that “I was ok” all of the sudden all kinds of feeling hit me like a train; all that sadness, all that anger and all that lack of trust came to the surface…. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? She will be gone 9 months! Too far to drive and check on her, no cell phone, and what if she gets sick?
My Advent came as a reminder that God is God and God does LOVE me! My Advent came as a reminder that I am neither Superman nor God! My Advent came as I HUMBLED myself and asked God to take away all that sadness, anger and doubts and trust that He will protect my daughter! My Advent came as I realized how bitter I have been and making my family miserable! My Advent came as I remembered that I am a child of God and that God will keep His promises! And finally, My Advent came as my wife and I prayed over our daughter and hugged her for the last time for the next 9 months!
My daughter is doing great and I want to share this picture of her smile that summarizes everything!
I pray that YOUR ADVENT will touch your heart, help you to forgive somebody or just helps you to remember that God loves you!
Thank you God for your protection, provision, love and mercy! God is good… all the time!
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27