What are we preparing for? We need Advent to help straighten the way, to teach us to slow down and savor the coming of Christmas.
As I raced through Advent, I was missing the point. Hurrying to accomplish, scrambling to tick items off the list, racing everywhere, rushing to get more stuff. It all reveals our modern focus has become terribly askew. What are we preparing for? We need Advent to help straighten the way, to teach us to slow down and savor the coming of Christmas.
I am a legend. Of sorts. My notoriety as a motor vehicle operator is a well-acknowledged fact even to my neighbors, friends and extended family. Five years ago I shocked them all when I blew up my husband's cherished '78 4×4, nicknamed "The Beast." I tried to start it after he had removed the carburetor (who knew?!) on the windiest day on record for years.
Sooner than the time it took to open the hood, it was engulfed in flames high enough to be seen ten miles away, and required several bemused firemen and their screaming trucks to put it out. My hand-held fire extinguisher was utterly impotent, and I lost an eyebrow.
Although I was not the first to do so, a riding lawn mower with a sticky gear shift somehow landed upside down at the bottom of our creek while under my control. Thinking it was in reverse, I gunned the accelerator to back away from the edge of a hill and found myself soaring over the precipice while negotiating a graceless leap off the back of the mower.
While I managed to avoid being pinned to the creek bed, I limped home dripping algae and stinking fish water with a crayfish clinging to my shirt tail. Really.
According to my three-year-old son, "policemen give Mama mail," and last summer my eleven-year-old asked my father, a retired state patrolman, why he stopped at the stop sign at the end of our road since his mother never does. It is for these reasons I was the butt of all the hilarity at our last family gathering.
I suppose my husband and oldest son were looking for moral support as they related my foibles in great comedic detail, and insisted they have worn out the grip handles on the door frame of my car. We laughed till we cried, because everyone knows I get it from my mother, who gets it from hers!
I recently backed over a boat that had been surreptitiously parked directly behind my car. It wasn't until my husband returned home from a fishing trip that I wondered if the leak that almost sunk his boat was my fault. When we first moved to the country, I got three speeding tickets in one year, but only because the highway is like an interstate out here.
Missing the Point
Because I am a firm believer in justice, I have never tried to get out of receiving a speeding ticket, and have, therefore, been to traffic school four times for tickets in two counties and two cities. My father was a career state patrolman, and I know exactly how many miles an hour over the speed limit I can drive without being ticketed, and many other very useful items of safety trivia.
This makes my record all the more surprising, and in response, I resorted to setting my cruise control on the highway and driving to town exclusively on back roads whenever I can.
So you can imagine my bewilderment when, recently, I found myself signing another little piece of mail pushed through the car window. While I prayed for another warning, I thanked God that my oldest son was not in the car to tell on me when I got home, but God's will was clear through a city cop hiding behind the rise of a hill and holding a hand-held radar detector on a lightly traveled back road. It is Advent, after all.
How many times has God attempted to correct this undisciplined and even dangerous behavior in my life? I know the answer is many times - many tickets, many warnings, many trips to traffic school that defrayed ballooning insurance rates, many jokes and sideways glances regarding my driving. As I drove away from the scene of the crime, the Lord asked me if something awful would have to happen before I finally took this issue seriously.
Haste implies confusion, lack of order, and impatience of slow growth, doesn't it? It mistakes ambition for inspiration. Ever seeking to substitute energy for a clearly defined plan, hurry never realizes that slow, careful foundation work is the quickest in the end. Instead, it throws truth, thoroughness, poise and generosity to the sacrificial winds. If we allow it, Advent will smooth the rough, pitted paths of urgency and over-commitment into peace and rest.
The Royal Highway of Holiness
A season of waiting, reflection, and repentance, Advent is a deliberate, dawdling month when the Scriptures prescribe filling in the valleys and leveling the mountains of our lives to make the way easier for the certain coming of the Savior. With attention toward avoiding steep pitches, Advent must tunnel through sin and level out valleys of despair. Hurry, the root of my driving sin, must be bulldozed. Especially now, when I am caught in the whirlwind of Christmas preparation.
Advent is an object lesson of perfect law, perfect plan, perfect order, and perfect method. It is a divine protest ...
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