“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
I love nostalgia. My favorite holiday activities include reminiscing over old movies and pictures and dusting off old decorations that remind me of childhood wonder. My delight and our culture’s fascination with looking back is not a recent development in the grand history of Christmas. Even as Isaiah looks to the future, he calls Israel to remember the past. Our past, both individually and collectively, provides roots for our identity and reminds us who we are. As much as we may dread the identity we have been given from previous experiences, God works in and through our distress and uses our pain and struggles to fulfill His purposes. As Isaiah reminds the people of Gideon and their great victories in history, he is not rallying them for a great battle or instilling pride in who they are. Israel must constantly be reminded of God’s power in their lives and throughout history. Without Him they are hopeless and helpless against their enemies. Isaiah’s reminder points them to their weakness and need for a savior and also the comfort of peace to come. They no longer need to fear the darkness around them because a great light is coming to end all darkness. He comes, not on a warhorse or with weaponry we would expect, but as a baby riding on a donkey in his mother’s womb. His first triumphal entry into the world did not establish a life of dignity or prestige, but set the tone for his life. Jesus came to serve and to bring peace that would have no end.
Knowing what our Savior gave up to bring you peace, what would you hold back from Him this advent season? What false source of comfort are you holding on to and where are you finding joy in things other than God? I was telling our students yesterday about the false sense of security I got from money on my honeymoon. I put my comfort and assurance in the amount in my bank account and when it was low, I was petrified. When I got paid that Friday, I felt like all was right with the world and nothing could hurt me. In reality, by “high tower” could be knocked over very simply and in truth, there is only peace and joy in trusting God to provide for us. As you prepare your heart for the celebration of Christmas in the coming weeks, remember what Christ gave up to come give you peace. The light that came to those in the darkness was not cheap or simple, but very costly and spectacular. Reflect on your past experiences of light entering the darkness of your life and God’s faithfulness in your history. He is far from done with your life, so like Isaiah, look ahead to the incredible faithfulness He will show you and generations to come.