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An Advent Wrestling Match

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'”

C.S. Lewis

I have a hard enough time following God when I agree that His ways are best for me. My pride is at war with humility; my love is at odds with my fear. Though I agree love and humility are good things, I am human and I struggle. But it is an entirely different sort of “hard” when I feel that God is being unfair towards me, when I feel He is withholding or doesn’t truly have my best interests at heart. It is different when I don’t understand in any particular instance why my will and His cannot coincide. The confusion stirs up anger and bitterness. Why do I have such strong desires for more if He is all that I need? I’m discovering that . . .

it is much easier to follow God when we suppress the parts of ourselves that disagree with Him.

But God calls us to the hard task of bringing Him our hurting hearts with real God-given human longings and surrendering our past, present, and future to His goodness. Can I just say that I hate that? Well, I just did.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was smack dab in the middle of the garden. God certainly didn’t make it easy for Adam and Eve to ignore! He said, “Nope. Your choice to follow me must be deliberate. The tantalizing alternative must be in full view.” You know what? I bet the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil tasted damn good. I bet it was the best-tasting fruit they had ever eaten (a mango, perhaps). And that’s where the feeling of unfairness hits, isn’t it? It seems as if God sets us up for failure.

The truth is, God does withhold good things from us, but only so that we can taste the best things, with full appreciation.

I am very angry at the sentence I just wrote. I don’t want the so-called “best” things. Best by whose standard? I know what I want and I want to be able to want the things that I want! So there!

None of us have always waited for the best. In our own unique, personal ways, we have eaten the fruit that God commanded us not to eat. But God doesn’t give up on us. Though we ruined our ability to fully appreciate His best, He redeemed it, and redeems it again and again, every day, every minute if necessary, imparting to us the righteous sacrifice of His Son.

Maybe God knew that only by tasting the forbidden lesser good and allowing His redemptive purposes to work could we truly appreciate the best good. Maybe He knew that wrestling was the only way to find rest. Maybe He knew that sacrificing Himself would be the only way to give abundant, eternal life.

Man . . . advent sucks.

Advent is humanity forced to stare at the good, and choosing to wait for the best. Advent is humanity biting into mangos, wanting so desperately to taste our will being done on earth (as it may or may not be done in heaven) because we know it will taste so good and right. Advent is humanity naked and ashamed. Advent is Christ, the eternal paradox.

On that note, here is a song I wrote.

“The Ones Who Wrestle”
Lindsey Snyder

You say you are enough

But I want more than you

I’ve wrestled for your blessing and

Been given bitter tears of truth

You show me glimpses of the end

But the road is so daunting and hard

What is the point of this winding path

That I keep stumbling on?

Will I have this limp

the rest of my days?

Why is suffering so long?

If you are the one that satisfies

Than why am I

still empty inside?

The name you gave me from the start:

“Hope” feels a cruel joke on this earth

I do what I don’t want

I want what I can’t have

Have what I need and yet I feel

All the lack

And maybe I’m a spoiled child

But please tell me that my pain is real

Who can save me from me

digging my own grave?

Only the one who suffered the whole world, to heal

Will I have this limp

the rest of my days?

Why is suffering so sure?

If you are the one that satisfies

Than why am I

still empty inside?

What good am I to you

If I cannot love the way you want me to

What good am I to you

If I cannot, I cannot love you?

What good am I to you

If I cannot love the way you want me to

What good am I to you

If I cannot, I cannot love you?

But that’s who you choose

The ones who wrestle you

Saving the Best for Last

Remember those days when you were a bouncing, energizer-bunny kid and you saw (or thought you saw) the shape of your most-wanted Christmas gift under the tree? When you just about rocketed out of your socks from the anticipation? I don’t know about you, but even though I always wanted to unwrap that most-wanted gift first and foremost, I would, counter to all my emotions, save it to open last.

However much I want to eat dessert before the main meal (let’s face it–sometimes I do,) open my longest-anticipated present first, give my most-thoughtful gift from the miniature wealth of my first few months of income right at the start, I wait.

nativityIn my deepest heart of hearts, I think I know that somehow, saving the best for last is most gratifying. Can it be that I secretly like the waiting, the anticipation, the advent of the season?

God, over and over again, has chosen to save the best for last. On the sixth and final day of creation, he created humankind in His image, and finally could proclaim everything He had made very good. Sarah, far from the brightness of youth,when everyone assumed that she was cursed for not bearing a child, conceived a son that would carry the bloodline of Jesus. After years of slavery and bondage, God raised Moses to shine His light to a people who had lost hope. After four hundred years of prophetic silence, when most thought that God had finally given up on them, the greatest miracle in heaven and earth broke the silence with a soft whisper of a baby that would grow into a cry on the cross and a shout from the grave.

Even Jesus’ first miracle mirrored his heart for advent, for a stalwart hope in the unseen.

John 2:9-10 (emphasis mine)–

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over.10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!

God is faithful. His advent, our birthing, groaning, crying waiting, never disappoints. Jesus knows right when He needs to come, to maximize impact, to bring the most hearts to Himself as is possible.

Let’s celebrate God’s faithfulness together this season and every season, because though waiting for the best for last can be frustrating and seem endless, He is coming. He will come again. Look at the baby in the manger and jump forward into the unreachable future to a time when unyielding perfection will finally heal our deepest wounds.

The best is still to come!