For Advent this year, I’ve decided to read John Pavlovitiz devotional, LOW. These are my musings:
I woke up this morning before dawn. The last full moon of the decade loomed high in the sky. It was bright and ever-present and for some reason I couldn’t keep my eyes off it. See, as I’ve walked through this devotion, one of the most significant themes seems to be the duality of the Christ. The fact that, as much we want God to be revealed in the salvation of the Son, we just as much don’t want to deal with the very real humanity that was embodied by that same God through the Son. In my quiet time lately, I’ve tried to be aware of what that moment of wrecking in the garden of Gethsemane must have been like for Jesus. The devastation of the soul. The “I don’t want to do this” that sat deep in this Galilean’s gut and, through cries of anguish and calls for support, made its way to his lips.
“We often feel like we need to apologize for (or at the very least conceal) our lowest points, our deepest anguish, our most human moments—as if such abrasive things are inappropriate or unwelcome, as if they somehow need to wait outside while we pretend that all is merry and bright… I love seeing Jesus at his lowest, and to hold such moments in my heart this season, because it reminds me to make room for my sadness and my grief. Christmas is as much the valley as the mountaintop. and my grief. It is the wedding celebration and it is the funeral procession. It is a joyous, expectant birth, but it’s also feeling troubled to the point of death. You get to have all of it.”– John Pavlovitiz
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know Advent is supposed to be about anticipating his coming. We are supposed to be rejoicing at the baby savior and singing good tidings. But I also think we must accept that the joy of Christmas lives side by side with the pain of the cross. One gives way to the other just like the moon I marveled at this morning gave way to the sun that crept up over the trees outside my window. The sun I might have ordinarily dismissed as unexceptional except for the fact that the light helped me see. I noticed it. I paid attention. This isn’t always the case. There are times when I’m drawn to the darkness.
Nevertheless, in our lives, joy and pain seem to be perfect neighbors. And I can’t say I like that much.
This is probably why I struggle sometimes with sitting in joy. With experiencing it full and loud. Because for someone who is healing from her skewed need for safety and control at all times, joy feel too uncertain. It feels too vague. I’m never sure how long it’s going to stick around. I don’t know that if I finally just settle into joy’s softness, or just find myself full with the glory of its presence, that pain won’t come and whack me upside the head. But I guess I’m learning what Jesus knew. That I’m not in control. And no matter what, pain reveals joy. Joy has no power without the contrast. Pain can give us light just like the sun. It can help us see. If we notice it. If we are willing.
I am willing.
But I still don’t like it though.
Come, Lord Jesus.