Daily Devotion - Thursday, December 10, 2015

This is the second week of the season of Advent.  Throughout the season of Advent we'll be focusing on what it means to be full of expectation and anticipation during this blessed time of year.  We'll also be lifting up the various weekly themes of Advent, corresponding to the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath.  This week our theme is "Peace."  

My wife Merideth has this awesome sign in her office that reads, "Do one thing every day that scares you."  That sign troubles me and excites me all at once. It excites me because I love the idea of it.  I like the idea that I might be the kind of adventurous person who would actually do something scary every day for the purpose of overcoming fear and moving forward in confidence.  

But the message of the sign also troubles me because I know that deep down inside I'm probably not going to do anything that scares me every day.  Instead, if left to my own devices, I'll probably do a thousand things that are well within my comfort zone.  

How do I know this?  I've got some empirical evidence.  You see, I go to a physical trainer three to four times a week.  She pushes me pretty hard, sometimes to the very limits of what I think I can do, and more often than not I leave my training sessions barely able to walk or lift my arms.  

I told her the other day, "I could easily go on the internet and learn how to do all of these exercises that you are showing me, and do them myself.  But I wouldn't.  At least not to the extent you make me.  What I'm paying you for is your will, because I don't seem to have any."  

I was reading an article by a woman who began experiencing a kind of peace that she never thought possible.  She wrote, "I got to this point in my life by doing one thing: by living one day at a time. I focused on doing one thing each day that moved me a little closer to where I longed to be." 

The path to peace is not one that we can sort of wander down aimlessly and comfortably until suddenly we find it.  It's quite the opposite, actually.  And the idea of finding peace sometimes clashes with our realities, and our own frailty and fears.  The Apostle Paul wrote about this conflict in his letter to the Romans:  "For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." 

Then he writes this, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"  

Paul discovered that when we follow Jesus, when we go all in as His disciple we are going to be challenged each and every day to do more and be more than we ever dreamed we could be without Him.  And when we accept those challenges, we will find ourselves closer to the true peace that can only be found in Christ himself.  

During this season of Advent, I encourage you to do one thing each day to move the needle in your life toward the peace you undoubtedly want.  

Spend time in prayer.  Be intentional about your family time, even if it means clearing your schedule.  Take the time to encourage a friend in need.  Give of yourself and what you have to feed the hungry, clothe the needy and give hope to the fainthearted.  Tell the story of Christmas and what it means for the world by your good words and good deeds.  

May you be filled with the courage to stumble after Jesus even if the way seems scary and filled with challenge.  May you discover that you are more than you ever imagined because of Christ and his continuing redeeming and reconciling work in the world.  And may the grace and peace our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all both now and forever.  Amen.  


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