About the author: Throughout this process of putting together these Advent devotionals, people have said that it feels awkward to write about themselves for their bio. As the editor, it feels even more awkward, I believe, but here goes: Sally Bias serves as the communications director at ZPC. She has been on staff since 2003 and a ZPC member since 1998. She has three children: Carly, who is a freshman at IU; Celia, who is a junior in high school; and Carter, who is in 7th grade.
About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.
Redemption | Matthew 4:17
From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
Have you ever seen something coming up in your life that you didn’t want to happen? I’ve experienced this a few times; most recently when my oldest daughter’s graduation from high school was approaching. I began to have anxiety about her “leaving.” The conversation in my head went something like this: “Have I done enough? Was I involved enough? Did I intervene enough? Did I teach her enough? Did I show up enough? Did I love her enough?” And on and on. It felt urgent and very uncomfortable. I had had 18 years of working toward “enough” with Carly. Did I make the most of every opportunity? Maybe. But probably not. Would I ever know if I had been enough for her? Maybe. But probably not.
My thoughts during that time remind me a little of today’s scripture: "Repent—turn back—for the end of Carly’s high school career has come near!"
I know that I am not done parenting Carly…even 18 months after her graduation. There are many more opportunities to be enough for her. I’m also pretty sure that sometimes I will fail her and she me. In this imperfect world, we will let each other down. Does that mean we stop trying? I don’t think so. I think the exact opposite is true. We keep choosing to connect. We keep choosing to show up. We keep choosing to love. Even though it can be painful and even though I am often not good at it and even though sometimes, if I’m honest, I just don’t want to. The urgency of the time I have left with Carly (and with her siblings, Celia and Carter) and also the importance of those relationships encourages me to choose the good stuff. And I am so grateful for grace, which says “You are flawed, you mess up, you do stupid things, and I love you anyway.”
We can all fall into this pattern of fear, wondering whether we have been or are enough in our earthly relationships. For me, this fear translates to my relationship with God as well. If I allow it to, today’s scripture feeds right into that pattern of fear. But I truly believe that God doesn’t want to frighten us. He does, however, want us to have a complete understanding of what is coming and therefore an opportunity to make the most of the time we have on Earth. I want to be able to get to the end of my time and say I did know God enough. I did point to God enough. I did love God enough. And even if those statements are not exactly true, realize that, as the embodiment of grace, he loves me anyway.
It is so hard to understand how amazing you are or how amazing it will be when we see you face-to-face. Thank you for your gift of life. We pray that you will help us to reach out to others with the hope and love that you give to us.
We love you, Jesus.