Countercultural

Look Deeper, See Clearer, Run Harder

No More Shadows — Why You Should Start an Advent Devotional

Every year I become more convinced the Christmas story is an invitation. God sought us, and He invites us to seek Him. This December, I’m starting an advent devotional, and I want you to do the same.

Advent: the shadow-caster made flesh

“Advent” means “arrival.”

Recently, I was a small group leader for a youth retreat. Most kids were familiar with church, but few had a deep, personal relationship with God. During a discussion time, I asked each student to pick one word to describe their current relationship with God.

A freshman boy in my group thought for a few moments and then said, “A shadow.”

He had heard about God, but he had never experienced or known God for himself.

A few weeks ago my men’s group started reading “Knowing God” by J. I. Packer. In chapter three, Packer talks about a key to knowing people.

The quality and extent of our knowledge of other people depends more on them than on us. Our knowing them is more directly the result of their allowing us to know them than of our attempting to get to know them.

If you want to get to know me, that’s fine; but until I offer myself to you, you’ll only get to know me in a superficial sense. In the same way, righteous people had known God for millennia, but all of their knowledge of God was only a shadow until Jesus made Himself known.

After 400 years of silence, God spoke. But this time, it wasn’t through a prophet or a burning bush. This time, it was God in flesh, crying in a manger.

The God of creation became as vulnerable and accessible as possible. He became us.

You’re invited to seek the King

Think about the characters in the Christmas narrative. The shepherds, the wise men, Simeon and Anna in the temple—they all have something in common. They were all looking for Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:13-14
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

The only people who found Jesus at His birth were those who were looking for Him.

In many ways, Advent is the same. Every year, we’re surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Christmas, and we choose what we seek. We can either get lost in the frenzy, or we can seek God.

But it’s not a passive action. It’s active.

Today, I’m starting an advent devotional, and I ask you to do the same. If you’re curious, the one I’m going through is “Good News of Great Joy” through Desiring God. The free, daily, short readings will stir your affection for Jesus.

Whatever you do, don’t let the significance of this season be lost on you. We’re celebrating Emmanuel—God with us. He is with us. Are we with Him?

God doesn’t have to be a shadow any more.

What helps you reflect on Jesus during the Christmas season? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

  • The John Piper devotional is the one I’m using this year! I’m a couple of days behind, but it’s very good. I love what you said about God revealing himself to us.

    • Thanks, Dawn! My wife and I don’t get around to it usually on weekends, but we love what we’ve read. Thanks for stopping by!

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