Finding God in Advent

Day 6 of 7 • This day’s reading


God Shows Up in You

When I was a child, Christmas was a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

It started on Christmas Eve. The anticipation of waking up the next morning to freshly wrapped presents was nearly overwhelming. I have countless memories of not being able to fall asleep and my mom gently walking me back to my bed after my numerous inquiries about how many more hours until Christmas morning.

Eventually my tired little body would fall asleep…but then I would wake up just a few hours later and run into the living room to check under the tree. For me, Christmas morning was the greatest morning of the year.

It wasn’t just the presents. It was all the festivities of the day—the gift exchanges, the laughter filling the living room, the food, and the unhurried pace of family fellowship.

For a child, one of the worst feelings of the year is knowing that Christmas is coming to a close. If Christmas Eve is one of the most exciting days for a child, the days after Christmas have to be some of the most depressing. The gifts are opened, the tree comes down, and the decorations are put away.

Just as quickly as it all showed up, it disappears.

There is a story in the Bible that feels similar. On one occasion, Jesus begins to tell his disciples that before long, he will have to leave them and go back to be with the Father.

They don’t take the news of his upcoming departure very well. It would have been a punch in the gut to hear Jesus say he was going to leave them—by dying on a cross, no less. It would have shattered their spirits.

The Jews had waited hundreds of years for the Messiah to show up and rescue them. And finally, here he was in flesh and blood. The disciples were walking and talking with the God of all creation. They were able to share meals with him, ask questions, hear him teach, and see him in action.

This is the God of the universe we’re talking about! And he’s their friend!

You would be angry too if you had grown accustomed to hanging out with God but then suddenly found out he was leaving.

As quickly as he had appeared on the scene, he was talking about leaving.

But the truth is, he didn’t leave. He continued to show up. Jesus promised his disciples that even though he had to go, he would eventually send his Spirit to live inside them.

This may not sound like a big deal to you and me now, but it would have been mind-blowing to his friends then. They undoubtedly believed that God’s Spirit dwelled in only the most holy places and the most religiously pure people.

Catch this: It was as if Jesus was saying, “I showed up not only to be around you but also to be in you.” The God who walked with Adam and Eve after they sinned in the garden is the same God who dwelled among the rebellious Israelites in the desert. He’s the same God who put on flesh and blood and entered a broken and sinful world in the person of Jesus. And now God is saying he wants to do more than dwell among them—he wants to dwell in them.

Because this is what God does. He shows up. He always shows up. Even when people feel like they are too broken and messy, he moves toward them, not away.

When the Christmas season begins to wind down in your home this year, don’t set aside Jesus along with your holiday decorations. Be encouraged as you reflect back on the God who always draws near broken and messy people.