Don't Miss the Gifts of Advent

By Heather Pennington 

In aviation school I learned that approximately 80% of aircraft accidents are caused by human factors or human error.  One of the largest of these factors is complacency error, where one becomes so comfortable with the everyday routine, that they become smug and careless with their actions and miss critical information or steps to properly carry out their journey and arrive at their destination.

As I have reflected on this season of Advent over the last few weeks, I have found myself in danger of complacency error.  Growing up in the church, I have heard the words Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love so many times that the significance and value of these life changing gifts of the Lord have become everyday words which I almost skim over in my routine.

Thank the Lord that He is forever by my side helping me track back onto the centre line as I continue on this journey.  This month He has drawn my awareness back to the critical understanding of just how vital these 4 words are to our safe journey at our destination.

Peace:  The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, which means so much more than simply the absence of war, but means the presence of something more in its place.  The kind of peace that is described in scripture refers to a state of wholeness.  Our world and our relationship with God was broken and destroyed, just like a broken city or wall, but when Jesus was born he brought with him a return to wholeness.  The Prince of Peace repairs our relationships with each other and with our Heavenly Father.  Life is complex and full of moving parts which can break down but on Christmas over 2000 years ago, we were given the gift of Peace, the opportunity to return to wholeness with God and the hope for the time when there will be no end to the state of Shalom. Colossians 1:19-20 calls us to action in this, to create peace, to be a people of peace.  Have you received this gift?  Are you taking action in sharing peace with those around you?

Hope:  To hope means to wait or anticipate something good for the future, however, the hope that is the gift that we receive in Jesus refers not simply to a lovely feeling of optimism, but to a person.  In scripture we continually see throughout the testaments that the people of God had hope because they looked back at all the Lord had done for them which motivated their hope for the future.  Hope is a choice as seen in Psalm 39:7 to trust in the Lord.  Have you received this gift of hope?  Are you taking action to share all that the Lord has done in order to provide hope for those in your life? Do you look forward to the future by looking back?

Joy:  Joy is not just being happy about your morning coffee, but it flows from hope in God’s promises.  We see again throughout scripture that God's people were not full of joy because of fantastic circumstances like 40 years in the desert, being shipwrecked, or being imprisoned.  They had hope in the Lord and the gift of joy from the Lord.  Matthew 5:12 states that Jesus’ birth is good news which brings great joy!  The early Christians were known for being full of joy.  Not that they were never sad, but that they chose joy even in the sorrowful moments of life.  Where is your joy placed, in the people, things, and achievements of this world or in the Lord?

Love:   Jesus’ entire life was love in action! He shared in Mark 12:31 that the meaning of life is to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself.  These two are not separate but the same thing, as our love for God is expressed by our love for one another.  Love is a choice, Jesus’ life is the greatest “how to” manual we could ever receive on this.  Have you chosen to receive this gift and also to put it in action as Jesus did, loving those without expecting anything in return for it?

Just as a pilot makes a choice to follow their checklists and complete tasks to arrive safely at their destination, it is our choice to receive these gifts from the Lord and put them into action in our lives.  The gift of salvation is freely given, but it is a daily choice for us to determine how incredible the journey to our destination will be.

Your sister in Christ,