An Advent Invitation: Recalling God’s Promises with Every Breath

Editor’s Note: This year, members of the Missio Alliance team will be offering weekly Advent devotionals on the themes of Promise, Prophecy, Peace, and Praise and contemplating how we are to live missionally in accordance with each theme. This week’s reflection comes from Krystal Speed, our operations strategist. We hope these devotionals will encourage and serve you as we share in the celebration of the Christ child’s arrival.

I remember the second-grade version of myself, holding my battery-powered candle. I stood next to my mom, dad, and two sisters, singing Christmas carols amidst a desert landscape of cacti covered in string lights. It was my elementary school’s outdoor Christmas celebration, and this was a memorable Christmas, indeed—our first living in Arizona, quite a bit different than the ones I’d experienced on the East Coast. The days were warmer, the nights absent of the winter chill, and the only snow visible was that on the mountaintops far off in the distance. The place where my family and I found ourselves was foreign and new, unlike anything I’d known to that point. The disconnect between what was and what I’d always known made it look and feel like anything BUT Christmas.

This year, I can’t help but feel like my seven-year-old self again. While the days are passing swiftly, the expanse between what was just a year ago and what is now is wide and seemingly increasing each day. In all areas of my life, I feel like that little second grader, surveying a new landscape, trying to make sense of what to do in this unfamiliar space. How can Christmas come in the midst of such a confusing time, while our grieving hearts are broken by sickness, death, separation, isolation, injustice, division, and more? How can Christmas come in the midst of such a confusing time, while our grieving hearts are broken by sickness, death, separation, isolation, injustice, division, and more? Click To Tweet

I imagine I am not alone in trying to navigate the still-persistent surrealness of this year. Oh, a year that has exposed so much of what is at the core of who we are individually and collectively—both the ugly and the beautiful, the flawed and the reconciled/reconcilable, the what is and what could be. In all honesty, at times it feels too much to continue to take in. In those moments, in response to the overwhelming and looming heaviness, I hear the invitation: “Breathe”.

In this year’s Advent season, a time of waiting, remembering, and preparing in hopeful anticipation, I’m accepting God’s invitation to breathe. This is an offer for me to replace worry, distress, or even detachment due to the difficulty of the season, with the intentional acts of recalling and resting in God’s promises. Surely, in his Word there are so many promises to recall and rest in. The one I am choosing to take hold of is one that was spoken at a time not too different from now, when life was hard, the outlook bleak, and hope hard to cling to:

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

(Is 9:1-2)

“Breathe,” I hear, “the promise of a great light, the light of the world, an ever-present Savior, to cast out darkness. Breathe, the promise fulfilled in Jesus’s birth.”

Skip forward a few verses and the passage continues:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

(Is 9:6-7)

Breathe, the promise fulfilled, and that yet to be in his second coming.

So, in this season of Advent, I’m endeavoring to actively and intentionally recall these promises daily and also share the hope-filled promise with others. During this first week of Advent, I invite you to join me in what the Lord is requesting that I do—breathe. Here are a few ways I plan to be involved in spiritual “breathwork” this week to help me recall and connect to these promises:

  • Planned Pause: include intentional periods of pause in my daily rhythm to simply rest in God’s presence
  • Breathe in Peace: with candle lit, inhale and exhale to invite God’s peace to invade your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual space
  • A Long Exhale: when the darkness of our current time (COVID-19 related sicknesses, economic issues, injustices continuing to be perpetuated on our neighbors across the globe) invades your heart, mind, and soul, begin with a long exhale as an act of releasing them to the Lord Almighty
  • Connect with God’s Creation: a few minutes each day I will walk around my neighborhood, sit in a park, or go on a hike (yes, even in the chilled days in which many of us may now find ourselves). As I do so, I will notice, consider, and take in God’s creation that surrounds me.
  • Pray God’s Promise: focusing on my family, neighborhood, community, social media friends lists, and people groups across the world, I will pray that others may see the darkness replaced with light and intimately know and experience the Son that has been given for our redemption.

I feel it now, like I felt it so many years ago: this season may be different from the ones I’ve experienced in the past. But what remains unchanged and forever true are God’s promises. Let us recall them this Advent and do the work to breathe and embody them this week.

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