Advent Day Eleven: Wait, what?

There’s a moment after you say, “Yes, Lord, let it be as you have promised,” when doubt floods in.  Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.  Maybe this path that looked so blessed while Gabriel was hanging out looks dark and lonely now that the bright winged angel isn’t nearby.  You are small.  You are young.  You are human.  You are alone.

Doubt, that slimy, second-guessing lizard, slithers up near your ear and hisses are you sure?  Are you sure that’s what he said?  Are you sure this is what you should be doing?  Are you sure this is the most secure way?  Are you sure you are content?  Are you sure?  Are you sure?

Shake him off.  Remember what was promised to you.  If you are troubled, if you are doubting, if you are second-guessing this decision or this path or this career or this marriage or this relationship or this calling, pause.  Reflect.  What brought you to this moment?  What has changed that permitted this lizard on your shoulder?

When this happens to me (and it does, often), I have to ask myself a few questions:

  • What is causing this uncertainty?
  • Am I worried over what-if’s? 
  • Is there a present danger to my contentment?
  • What are the temptations to change course, and what lies underneath those temptations?
And if I am still uncertain, if the road still looks rocky and dark and lonely, if there are now two or more ways I could go and I don’t know whether to turn to the left or the right, then I run to a friend or mentor whose shoulder isn’t occupied by the second-guessing lizard, who can remind me, through the fog of uncertainty, what has been promised, what is the way of truth, so that I can walk in it again.
I feel like that is what is happening in today’s verses about Mary and Elizabeth.  Mary is a first-time mom, a virgin mother of the Son of the Most High.  Do you think she faced her changing body with peace and calm at every turn?  No!  Of course she’s terrified!  Of course she needs encouragement!  In the days and weeks and months before I first felt that flicker of movement inside my womb, I worried daily I would miscarry, worried constantly something would happen.  I think Mary goes to her relative seeking comfort and encouragement from another woman who would understand, extend mercy and compassion, and embrace her – blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!'” – Luke 1:39-45

Advent Activity: Buckeye Express Diner Night
Last year, we took the kids to this place and they loved it.  We haven’t been back since, so I think they’ll be pretty excited to go and dine again in the railroad car.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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