I never even started that Advent devotional.
The one I researched and found online but could not get to download over our shoddy internet. The process discouraged me and I thought of it, spoke of it to God, every morning.
If only that devotional had downloaded!
I really wanted all of those wise words.
In this particular season, I did not need to read it.
I needed to walk it.
The water stopped flowing and there was an announcement about it on the radio and it was because a pipe had been damaged in a nearby road construction project.
We called, sent someone to the water office and discussed. The official word returned to us that ‘they couldn’t know’ when the pipe would be repaired. “The road must be finished first.”
We were watching those construction workers like hawks. Were they moving? Was the murram (gravel) spread? How many days would they break for holiday celebrations? Could we bring our wrenches and fix that pipe ourselves?!
Because you know what is helpful in the days just before Christmas? Water.
Because you know what is necessary for all of the dish washing? Water.
Because you know what is required for the gazillion times a person washes their hands while baking? Water.
Because you know what is really advantageous when someone is ill with a stomach bug? Water.
Because you know what is conducive to Cheryl remaining sane? Water.
You see, once upon a time, we lived for six whole years without electricity. By God’s grace, we did that. We adjusted to solar power and all that it provides, namely, freedom from the corruption of our local electric company. So, I know that I can weather that particular deprivation. I can live without my hair dryer, a washer and dryer and a deep freeze. It hurt for a while, but I adjusted.
But you know what I cannot seem to adjust to living without? Water.
I simply cannot. It takes me right up to the edge of all that is rational and practical and tips me over the fraying, ragged edge. I know this because I have also done it. I have lived without running water. Our very first nine months in Fort Portal. Nine months. It changed me forever. (I never drain an entire bathtub of water without cringing.)
But the week before Christmas? The loss of water felt like some sort of cruel joke. Because, for the Cashes, this December of 2017 was one for the books.
Car tires. Blown out.
Car electrical system. Shut down.
Solar power inverter. Blown out.
Internet router. Burned out.
Web domain and email. Hacked and locked out.
Electricity. Browned out. Surged. Off.
Water. Off for days, tanks dry.
Jeff. Sick for two weeks.
Bank accounts. Locked out.
Phones. Frozen, locked up, conked.
It really has been remarkable. I awoke early each morning to sort the previous days burdening issues to realize that I must solve two new problems first.
There was no way it was coincidental. Not in the merciful hands of an incredibly persistent, incredibly faithful Provider.
He wastes nothing.
In the midst of it all, this one particular morning.
Mapping out necessary tasks for the day ahead.
Praying for water.
There it was:
A gift, wrapped in discouragement and want, emerging sweeter than ever before.
His mysterious reckoning blazoned.
All of the deficit had me locked into waiting expectantly.
I didn’t have to tell myself to pay attention.
I already was.
There was nothing else to do.
Sitting in the want and need and impossibilities and straining my ears toward…something. Some word to guide the next step.
Some announcement that would promise good ahead.
Some news that would be abundant.
Some idea that would advance our day and maybe even alleviate a burden.
Like the shepherds.
Like the old barren couple, succumbed to the humility of no immediate heir.
Like the young girl waiting on the very edge of a community-accepted, status-quo life change offered instead the opportunity to labor on behalf of the whole world.
Doing their jobs. In step with the familiar. The next right things. The daily. The yearly. The expected passage of one’s life.
Right in the middle of the worship. The day. The dark field at night.
Each person wanting for something.
“Do not be afraid!”
“….your prayer has been heard!”
“Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son….
He will be a joy and delight to you.”
Luke 1: 5-25
“Greetings, you who are HIGHLY FAVORED!”
“The Lord is with you!”
“Do not be afraid!”
“You have found favor with God!”
“You will conceive and give birth to a son...”
“…call Him Jesus…”
“He will be great!”
“DO NOT BE AFRAID!”
“I bring you GOOD news!”
“Today…a Savior has been born to you.”
My heart beats it.
Each of those glorious, weird, out-of-the-box announcements so full of mercy and hope shining light ahead, even then, into each of my current powered-out, bone dry places.
This is a gospel that resounds.
A point of light incisively radiating into the shadowy margin of every shortfall.
It is, in fact, really loud there.
For this is the meaning of advent.
We wait. He comes.
Over and over and over again.
The waiting is not a distraction.
It is, instead, the epiphany.
Creating an empty space expansive enough for an echo to reverberate.
Locking focus, accentuating need, heightening all the wanting and opening ears to every decree.
Perfectly priming each moment for proclamation.
And, somehow, the intensified longing transforms worship.
The discordant tone of yearning creating the most gorgeous, soul-satisfying dissonance.
We are so happy, so relieved, so satisfied,
when a long-awaited answer finally comes.
“My soul glorifies the Lord…”
…my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
“…he has been mindful…
His mercy extends…
He has performed mighty deeds…
He has brought down rulers and lifted up the humble!
He has filled the hungry…
He has helped…
He remembers to be merciful…”
Luke 1: 46-55
His Spirit falls on us.
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people
and redeemed them!
.…to show mercy
to enable us to serve…
to guide our feet….”
Luke 1: 67-79
In my own weeks of pummeling deficiency, I was granted a Christmas season ripe with enlightening truth:
God’s Glory proclaimed.
From every humble state, a gift poured out from surprising places through concession to God’s upside down, shocking, ever-redemptive way:
“I am the Lord’s servant.
May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Wherever you are today--
From the obvious want of want.
(Or, even, from the constantly insatiable want of plenty.)
May your eyes be allowed to see,
His blessed favor, rest.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
(Our water returned late in the evening on Christmas Eve. It was perfectly timed relief for all of us. Thanks be to God for His faithful presence in the midst of it all and thanks to each of you for every prayer.)