Third Sunday of Advent: The Unexpected

The dailyness of advent keeps me atuned to the world around me, it invites me over and over again to be present, listening, feeling, wondering.

I take the back roads home from the driving my little girls to school each day. The drive is peaceful and slow as I pass by empty fields and farm houses with the sun rising soft and pink. It is often a sacred space and this week in that sacred quiet space I heard a song that stirred me.

I came home and searched for it in my itunes so I could listen to it again. And again. And again.

Each time my eyes teared up and my heart felt a strange connection with the words and the picture they were painting.

Everything inside me cries for order
Everything inside me wants to hide
Is this shadow an angel or a warrior?
If God is pleased with me, why am I so terrified?
Someone tell me I am only dreaming
Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes
And before my head agrees, my heart is on it’s knees
Holy is He. Blessed am I.

I so want order in my world.  I want to do the right thing.  I am willing to do really difficult things if I believe they are “the right thing to do”.  (In that I tend to take on too much responsibility)  This year I have cried a lot of tears, tears for what has felt incredibly “not right” and my inability to create order and rightness.

I have wanted to hide.  In fact, I have hidden.  I have hidden in my office at home, face down on the floor asking God to speak to me.  I have poured out my heart and wrestled with Him about what I sensed He was laying out in front of me.

I have felt terrified of what the road ahead holds.  The fear is deeply personal and not something I will articulate to many people.

Be born in me, be born in me
Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me
I’ll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem
Be born in me

I know that God has spoken to me.  I have heard His voice and His confirmation over and over again.  It leaves my heart trembling.  It also leaves me with the sense of such vacancy inside of my heart, a vacancy that begs, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”.  My heart His Bethlehem.

Oh, my yes.

Did You wrap yourself inside the unexpected
So we might know that Love would go that far?

The unexpected.  I am acutely aware of the unexpected.  Most often my first response is not to look for where Jesus is wrapped inside of it.  And yet, as I look back I can trace the truth that it has been in the unexpected that I have known His love most deeply.  This year is no exception.

This week I felt this strange, and unexpected, connection with Mary.  It caught me so by surprise.  My circumstances have nothing to do with an unexpected pregnancy (for those of you who read me and remember those unexpected announcements a decade ago).  The connection came through the words of the song and where they articulated emotions I knew my heart was holding.

To know you have heard something from the Lord.  To know He is calling you to something difficult and life giving at the same time.  To know you will be misunderstood and your attempts at explanation will sound like madness to many.  To feel the shame of what appears to be one thing, that is in fact something else.

I am not brave
I’ll never be
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy
I’m just a girl
Nothing more
But I am willing, I am Yours

To step out in faith often leaves us aware of how young and vulnerable we feel.  I feel that.  I love remembering that often the only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy, and keeping that space open for Jesus to enter in is such a good thing.


DSC_0512Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12).  Married for 27 years, she is mother to five kids.  After nearly a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.  Founder of Red Tent Living, she writes here.