Emmanuel, God with us. After the recommendation of a friend and a short devotional on it, I read “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence shortly after Ellie was born. I thought it was a good time to read it, to be challenged to be in His presence continually in a time when there wasn’t really much opportunity for specific times of reading and prayer.
But only a few weeks later, His presence was gone in the throes of postpartum depression. As I struggled to find it again and struggled to pray, slowly it came back, even as the breakers and waves crashed down on me drowning out at sea. I remembered Emmanuel: His Son sent to be God with us and be our rescue. That He would be with me. His forgiveness, and intercession, and His love which nothing can separate me from. In the suffocating of hormones, and a sin nature exacerbated by those hormones, I found Emmanuel before the throne, my strong and perfect plea, living and interceding for me, making it so nothing can pluck me from His hand or take away the presence He came and bled and died and rose for us to have. I’m not fully healed of the struggle yet. But every moment His presence is there is one of thankfulness and sweetness and joy. And to help in the moments He feels far away, one of the things I am doing for Advent this year is memorizing some key verses. Another is reading John Piper’s “The Dawning of Indestructible Joy,” and striving to look ahead with longing to His second Advent.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. This was quoted to us at church, the second Sunday of Advent, the 102nd day of Aleppo under siege. And we also prayed for the persecuted church. And I thought of those suffering under ISIS and Boko Haram, and Christians persecuted all over the world, and prayed that they may have hope remembering that the darkness does not overcome the Light.
Prince of Peace. And as I think of Aleppo and of Mosul, and prepare to return to an America reeling at election results, I remember that He is also the Prince of Peace, and that He came not be served, but to serve. That I as His child can be His ambassador in the world and be a peacemaker. And so the other thing I am doing for Advent is Preemptive Love’s 25 Days of Peace.