Welcome to the season of Advent. Traditionally, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. A time of waiting and anticipation.
The word Advent comes from the Latin. It means coming. We look back to the first Advent when a miracle happened on a chaotic night in Bethlehem. The promised Messiah who God’s people had waited on for so long arrived.
Today if you are a follower of Jesus Christ then you are a person of the advent. It is a perpetual advent, not a onetime event as we wait for Him to return.
This first week of Advent is about hope.
I have the privilege to live in my childhood home. In the backyard, there was a magnolia tree. We literally grew up together. When we moved into the house all those years ago, it was only about two feet tall.
As the tree and I grew I climbed its branches and each summer, I would carve the year into the trunk.
Each spring it would put on a magnificent display of beauty with hundreds of pink flowers. And throughout summer, it provided deep, refreshing shade.
About seven years ago a strong summer storm produced straight line winds and snapped a huge portion of my favorite tree. The winds also severely damaged the part that remained causing it to be unsafe. There was no choice except to take it down.
Yes, I cried. I loved that tree. So many memories and now my beloved tree was gone. But then something amazing happened. A small shoot emerged from the stump. My tree was still alive. There was hope it would grow again.
“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.” – Isaiah 11:1 NLT
From A Shoot To A Tree
As I look at my magnolia tree today that shoot has grown to well over ten feet tall. Through this tree, God showed me that the stump is not what is important it is the shoot, the promise of life where I need to focus.
Our hope is the shoot that grew out of the stump of David’s family. His name is Jesus. He came that first Christmas, and He will go to incredible lengths to save us.
This past week I was waiting at a traffic light in a small village I was driving through. As I looked to my right, I noticed the community Christmas tree. It was enormous and beautiful. Perfectly shaped and tastefully decorated.
Then I looked at the trunk. It was cut off from the roots. In a few short weeks it will be dead. It seemed so ironic that this magnificent evergreen tree which represents eternal life would soon die.
“Exactly!” was the nudge I heard from the Spirit. The wood that made the cross on which Jesus would die to save us from our sins could only come when the tree was harvested.
From a stump to a shoot to a tree to a cross comes the hope and glory of perpetual Advent.
An Upside Down Advent
In this crazy busy, often stressful season what if He wants our focus to be on that little shoot? What if He is saying to each of us, “Just where you are, seek Me in the small overlooked details of the season?”
I think He wants us to stop. Stop all the busyness that distracts us from focusing on Him and find Him in a whole new way this Advent season.
To stop just where we are and seek Him. Because if we are not careful in our tendency to race non-stop through this season, we could step on the shoot that sprouts from the stump.
Instead, let’s go slow. Let’s be still. Let’s seek the Shoot that bears witness to God’s glory breaking in. I believe He is begging us to give our attention to the little, the least, the lonely, and the lost this Advent.
“Gaze on shoots of glory to grow deep in the roots of God.” – Ann Voskamp
Where can you see new life coming in what you may have considered dead?