Monday, 29 December 2008

Going north

In Toronto I feel overdressed. My small Sorel boots and practical winter jacket seem out of place and out of fashion. It is Christmas Day, and we are on our way early in the morning to fly up to the NWT.  I have never flown on Christmas Day before, but apart from a ticket agent with flashing holiday earrings, not much is different. 

The first sign that we are in the north is the stewardess on the Calgary-Yellowknife flight. Before landing she puts on a full length parka so she won’t freeze when she opens the door. It is -31 C when we arrive. She wishes us all a Merry Christmas and we step out onto the tarmac. It is 2:15 and the sun is only a handbreadth above the horizon, but it makes the runway sparkle so much I have to squint. An attendant stands near the plane, directing us to the terminal. She is elegant in a long parka, her dark hair framed by fur. We walk with crunchy steps, and I can tell it is cold, colder than I’ve felt in a long time.  After about 10 seconds I can feel my jeans getting stiff and the end of my nose tingling. My long johns are still packed in a suitcase. I feel underdressed. 

Dwayne picks us up at the airport, and we head out to the van. Dwayne is a mechanic, and his van is one of those mechanic type vans. The only doors that open are the front passenger door and the sliding side door, which means he has to climb in first, and then we follow. The heater also is not working at maximum capacity, and we pull out our real Sorels and full snow suits. The only place open in Yellowknife is the gas station, so we go in to hunt up some food, returning victorious with microwaveable Chunky soup, Lunchables and beef jerky, which isn’t as good as homemade dry meat, but does the trick in a pinch. 

The sun is setting as we drove out of town, and I can feel the north seeping back into my bones, or at least the cold is. I’m wearing Dwayne’s warmest hunting snowpants and an assortment of woolen accessories, sitting in the back with one leg up on each armrest in the front, mitts over my feet trying to keep my toes warm close to the front vents (the only ones that spit out any heat), chewing on a piece of jerky and listening to the latest northern news update from Dwayne.  

I see the ravens again out the window, massive black and glossy. We pass a few buffalo on the road and in the ditches, frosty white coats and steaming nostrils stamping through the snow. The trees are covered in snow and hoar frost. It isn’t the kind of covering that looks like it could be shaken off in a breeze. There is a permanence to it, as if the trees had accepted their winter fate and decided to dress the part. The dusky light stays with us for a while, reflecting off the snow that surrounds us with a dreamy glow. 

We pass one or two vehicles on the road out of town, and soon the sky is black. The windshield is only half defrosted, but I can see the stars popping out above the trees. Orion is a giant this far north, and it is like meeting an old friend you only see in pictures. I think about Orion and the way the snow looks like crushed diamonds on the road, and I start to doze off. 

I wake up just before the ferry crossing over the Mackenzie River. Even though it has been very cold the last few weeks, the channel is still open, kept free of ice by the 24-7 winter schedule of the Merv Hardie. The ice isn’t thick enough yet for the ice road, and so the ferry will keep running till it is. We were the only car going across that run. Micah stood outside the whole time, walking stiffly from side to side in his snowsuit. The channel is narrow, and the ferry does a series of slow donuts, bouncing off encroaching ice floes to break a path and keep it clear. Now I’m sitting in the front seat, where I have discovered the van’s source of heat, and I’ve got my feet right over the vents. I don’t let Micah back in the front seat! The windshield is about two-thirds defrosted by now.

We still have another 4 hours to go. We plan to get gas in Enterprise, about an hour down the road. Just as I’m looking forward to a pee break, we find out the gas station is closed in Enterprise. That means we’ll have to go in to Hay River, which is a little bit out of our way. The Shell station should be open there at The Rooster. I decide I can hold my pee a little longer. Micah is bundled up in the back seat, where I’m sure the temperature is at least a few degrees colder. Water bottles are freezing on the floor, and we have to thaw the juice cans out on the dashboard every so often so they don’t explode. 

The gas station on the road into Hay River is closed, so we head in to the Shell. It’s dark. A quick drive around town confirms our fears. Absolutely nothing is open in Hay River, not the gas stations, not the hotels, not even the cop shop. Sure, it is Christmas Day, but nothing?! Nothing between Yellowknife and Fort Smith? We don’t have enough gas to make it to Smith, another 3 hours down the road. At least The Rooster has a working payphone outside, and we make a collect call home. Dwayne paces and stamps back and forth in his fur hat waiting for the phone connection. It is bitterly cold and windy. Dad will try and get a hold of some friends in Hay River who might be able to help us out. Dwayne pees behind the gas station, and I’m jealous, still not desperate enough to drop everything. 

We are rescued by a Christmas angel, otherwise known as Glen Wallington, an old friend of our parents that I haven’t seen in at least ten years. He drives us to the card lock where we can fill up. We need oil too, so he invites us back to their place where he’s got some. I ask if I can use their washroom, and he invites us all in to warm up, glory to God. Marsha puts on a pot of coffee and we pull up to the table. It’s a small world wherever you go, and I see one of my sister’s classmates that I knew in grade 6 in Saskatchewan, and Dwayne finds out that he used to play with the Wallington boys back in BC when he was a little kid! Here we are, Christmas evening, drinking coffee in our snowpants in a stranger’s house, and it makes me smile. Christmas found its way through the cold and rescued us. 

We are thawed and fortified with caffeine, ready for the last stretch of highway. Micah burrows under a pile of parkas in the back seat, and he looks like the abominable snowman taking a nap. I talk with Dwayne for awhile before succumbing to my sleep deprivation. I am half aware of passing the 70 km road sign, of the pavement beginning again after gravel, and of Salt Mountain. I don’t really wake up till I see the street light at Bell Rock, and then I know it’s only 10 minutes till we’re there. When we get to the bend in McDougal Road the familiarity of the town greets me, and I get excited. All is calm and bright, and it’s about 20 after midnight. We almost made it home on Christmas Day, but this is close enough. We stumble into the house with our coats and suitcases, where my parents are happy to finally greet us and give us big hugs. 

I rush down to the basement where the woodstove is, getting as close as I can without touching it. There’s nothing like a roaring woodstove. The house is all decorated for Christmas, and the little spruce tree is twinkling with pride in the corner. I’m too dopey to do much other than eat a bowl of cereal, brush my teeth and find my bed. I drop into bed, exhausted and content. The Hudson’s Bay blanket on the bed reminds me one last time that I’m truly in the north, and then there is only sleep. 


Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Saturday, December 27

A song for the journey:

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary; and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently the wondrous Gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming; but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell,
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.

(O Little Town of Bethlehem – Phillip Brooks and Lewis H. Redner)


Friday, December 26

What began as a few tentative steps has led you to Bethlehem and beyond. You have received the promise of Love, the experience of Emmanuel. Your journey is far from over, but you are not alone. You have many things to ponder as you leave the stable.

Take a rest on your journey to read this passage and ponder this question:
Luke 1:19-20

What treasure will you now carry with you as a result of your journey to Bethlehem?


Thursday, December 25

The identity of this child is almost incomprehensible. He is a descendent of Abraham, yet He gave Abraham life. It is the wonder of the incarnation, a divine-human mystery that enfolds you in the warmth of infinite Love. It welcomes you not only into the family of Abraham but into the family of God. You are no longer a stranger. You are His child.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Matthew 1:1-17
John 8:56-58
John 1:1-14

How has the coming of Christ fulfilled God’s promises to Abraham and to you?

Take a few moments to come and worship the newborn King.

Merry Christmas to all!


Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Wednesday, December 24

He doesn’t just offer a promise; He offers his very self. Who would have thought that all your searching would lead you to this tiny stable? This is not where you would have expected to find Him. But here He is on this holy night. This is Love incarnated, embodied in the manger. Love has a face. Love has a name – Jesus.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Isaiah 9:6-7
Luke 2:1-7
1 John 4:9-10

How have you experienced God’s love in unexpected ways?


Tuesday, December 23

When you have laid down your very heart you discover that He will indeed provide. The provision comes unexpectedly, overwhelming you with grace. But this redemption comes at a price. These newborn hands are the same ones that will sacrifice themselves in death for your salvation.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 22:9-19
Hebrews 10:19-25
Luke 2:36-37
Luke 1:67-79

How do you need to experience God’s redemption this season?


Monday, 22 December 2008

Monday, December 22

Following the path to the Son is not always easy; it is often strewn with stones that prick your feet and pierce your heart. It requires the complete submission of your will. You may be asked to sacrifice the very thing you hold closest to you heart, in order that God may possess your heart completely.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 22:1-8
Hebrews 11:17-19
Luke 2:34-35
2 Corinthians 5:7

Are you willing to trust God even when it seems His promises have disappeared?

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Fourth Sunday of Advent - Sacrifice

The light is fading like the final notes of a symphony, but still the song lingers in the air. It is something that will forever resound in your being. You take a deep breath, your heart pounding furiously in your chest. The shepherds have regained their feet and are now talking excitedly, flailing their arms and dancing from foot to foot, exclaiming over the wonderful news that has been announced to them.

You turn to find your friend standing with face turned toward the last shimmer of perfect light. His staff is on the ground, but it appears he has no need of it. He is standing tall, like a mighty tree with roots digging deep through time, and branches being drawn upward toward an inexpressible and glorious hope. In his face shines all the wisdom of a king and all the delight of a child.

“It is as I had hoped,” he whispers to you, “and still beyond all my imagining.”

“It's Him, isn't it?” you reply with eagerness. Now you hear the shepherds preparing to go into town, to search every stable to find earth's newest son. “Shall we go to Him?” you ask the old man, eying the shepherds pointing the way to Bethlehem and not wanting to be left out of the search.

At first he makes no sound, and you wonder if he has heard you. Then he turns toward you. “Hand me my staff will you,” he says with purpose in his eyes. You bend to obey his wish, placing the wood in his hands. His wrinkled face looks down at you. “Permit an old man a bit of a slower pace. I'm not as young as I once was.” The shepherds have already begun to run, down the path and past the sheep, coats streaming behind them. The last one calls out a word of beckoning to you both, and you can hardly restrain the burst of speed threatening to carry you with them.

“Don't worry,” your friend responds. “I think I know the way, and I have a feeling we'll get there in plenty of time.” Though slightly disappointed, you start out at the patriarch's pace.

“Isn't it wonderful?” you say breathlessly. “I just know I'll find what I'm looking for. He's here, and everything I dreamed of will come true! But you must know what that's like. A son was the answer to your promise too.”

Your companion looks thoughtful. “Yes, he was. Though his birth wasn't the end of the story.” He pauses, and something like sadness softens his features. “Promises from heaven do not always follow the easy road. I had to lead mine up a mountain, to an altar. . .” The old man stops and leans heavily on his staff. You offer your arm in support. “I had to give him up. You see, it wasn't just about the promise. I wasn't living for the promise anymore. I was living for Him.”

You are surprised at these words. “Did your son die?” you ask hesitantly.

“No. But something in me died that day. Something that had to die in order for me to go on, in order for the promise to live.”

“That seems cruel.” you reply, and for an instant you are not sure you want to meet Him after all.

“It was the only way.” The ancient traveler lays his bony hand on yours. “And when it was over, He gave me my son back.” The creases of his mouth form a smile and he straightens up, looking down the path. “And I've anticipated this day ever since.”

“What do you hope to find now?”

“One of my descendants.”

“Do you have a grandson now?” you ask.

He laughs. “I am far older than you think. And though He is a baby, He is older than us all.”

Truly these are strange happenings this night. You wonder about this new son. You hope he lives, because somehow you know all your hopes will be fulfilled in Him. The path turns and you almost stumble over a lamb, left alone in the confusion of the night. It is caught in some branches and bleating pitifully. “What about the sheep?” you gasp, realizing suddenly that the whole flock has been abandoned by their keepers.

Your friend stoops to untangle the animal with experienced hands. Then with tenderness he speaks. “He will provide, even for them.” You take the lamb and heave it up over your shoulders. In the distance, the lights of the little town hold out a cheering welcome. You grasp your fellow traveler's arm and look at him with new regard.

“Come on old father, let's go and meet Him.”


Saturday, 20 December 2008

Saturday, December 20

A song for the journey:

Break forth, O beauteous heav'nly light,
And usher in the morning;
Ye shepherds, shrink not with affright,
But hear the angel's warning.
This child, now weak in infancy,
Our confidence and joy shall be,
The power of Satan breaking,
Our peace eternal making.

(Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light – J. Rist, J. Schop & J. S. Bach)


Thursday, 18 December 2008

Friday, December 19

Seeds of glory have been planted within you. His Word is taking root and something new is taking form. This divine work develops a unique shape in your life.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Isaiah 55:10-13
2 Corinthians 3:18
Philippians 1:6

What divine work is being birthed in you this season?


Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Thursday, December 18

His glory has come, streaming in gold and lighting up the hills. It is like nothing you have ever seen. And what is most mysterious is that for the first time, the fullness of God’s glory shines out of the face of an infant.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Isaiah 40:1-5; 60:1-3
John 1:14-18
Hebrews 1:1-3a
2 Corinthians 4:6

How have you beheld His glory?


Wednesday, December 17

Highly favoured. This greeting meets all those who embrace God’s presence in the depths of their being. The Lord is with you. This is the promise, the purpose of Christmas. This is reason for song.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 21:6-8
Luke 1:28-30, 46-55
Luke 2:15-20
Matthew 2:10-11

What is your response to the news that you are a recipient of God's favour?


Monday, 15 December 2008

Tuesday, December 16

These tidings do more than ring in your ears. They sink deep into the empty spaces of your heart and begin a transformation. Life begins where there was once only desolation and death. It is a miracle.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 21:1-5
Luke 1:5-25, 39-45
Isaiah 54:1

How has God filled areas of barrenness in your life?


Monday, December 15

Advent celebrates the coming of light. After such a long trek and so many days of darkness, joy often arrives unexpectedly. There you stand, blinking in the light, and you cannot help but laugh at this wonderful turn in the road. Such joy seems impossible, but there it is to greet and strengthen you.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 18:1-15
Hebrews 11:11-12
Isaiah 9:1-5
Luke 2:8-14

In what ways has joy taken you by surprise?


Saturday, 13 December 2008

Third Sunday of Advent - Songs for a Son

The night is ablaze, and for an instant every dark hollow is illuminated. Now a steady warmth proceeds from the sky, blanketing the sleeping sheep and eager herdsmen in silver light. You have never felt more alive. Your heart seems to have exploded within you. Could it be? Could this be the very thing pointing you toward that which you seek?

You are startled by a touch on your arm. You look over to see one of your companion's hands gripping your coat sleeve, and the other pointing toward the light. His countenance is that of wonder. “It is His star.”

At once your heart beats assent to this statement. “Whose star?” you ask, your mind still unsure of what this could mean.

“Why the One who called me – and I suspect, the One who called you. The One who made a covenant with me. He is fulfilling His Word – no, more than that – I sense His Word is drawing near, becoming . . . becoming . . . well I don't know what it's becoming. In my case it became a son. A living being, flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.”

“This son, who is he? How did he fulfill the promise?” you inquire, hoping to hear the fellow traveler's story at last.

The man laughs, a chuckle at first. Then he laughs hard, slapping his bony knees and shaking his woolly beard at length.

You are rather taken aback at this response. “Tell me, what's so funny?”

“My son,” he says with a smile. “We named him after his mother's laugh. A laugh that began in disbelief and ended in joy. I thought my days of fatherhood were long past. I even told the angel so. And here they were just beginning. Through him, I would have many sons and daughters. Through him, a blessing was birthed and would flow to every corner of the earth. And I was to be the father of it all. I can hardly conceive of His favour to me. When that boy was born, He loosed all the stars of heaven and let blessings fly – to me. I forgot even the idea of barrenness. My little prince, so peaceful in my arms, content with a lullaby. How great my joy. I still laugh to think of it.”

The merriment on the patriarch's face gives him the appearance of an earlier age. For the first time this night, you smile, and feel warmed by more than the watchmen's fire. It does seem peaceful here. The old man's words turn over in your head. A blessing to every corner . . . even yours? And through a son you have never seen? How is this possible?

You turn to the old man – you realize you don't even know his name – and begin to form the question, when all at once your eyes are blinded by a great flash and you find yourself thrown to the cold ground. You reach to help the old man who lies beside you, but his grip finds you first, and it is strong. If the shepherds' fire had expanded a hundredfold it would not compare to the intense yet beauteous light now surrounding the entire gathering. The eyes of the herdsmen on the ground around you are filled with fear. You can hear the sheep bleating and stamping about in confusion. If it were not for the steadying hand of your companion, you would surely tremble into the earth, though its rich fragrance reassures you of the reality of this moment. From the center of the light a large figure appears. You can only stare dumbstruck at him, but the old man raises his head in recognition.

“Fear not!” Though his voice is as thick as thunder, it is soft and brings a calm over the crowd of humans and animals. “I come not to frighten you, but to announce a great joy!” You are amazed at this shining man, and his words seem to be directed to you. You open your arms in embrace of them. “A son, the Saviour of promise has been born to you. He is the Chosen One of God... You will find Him in a manger.” Suddenly, a song bursts forth from every direction, accompanied by countless figures of light. Every particle of heaven and nature is singing.

Within your very soul, hopes and fears dance and swirl about, converging upon this heavenly Word. You feel it, at last, the birth of joy. You want to run, and you are sure glory will meet you on the way. Yes, this is the way, this is the way to Him.


Friday, 12 December 2008

Saturday, December 13

A song for the journey:

As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light, leading onward, beaming bright,
So, most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led to Thee.

As with joyful steps they sped to that lowly manger bed,
There to bend the knee before Him whom heav'n and earth adore,
So, may we with willing feet ever seek the mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare at that manger rude and bare,
So may we with holy joy, pure and free from sin's alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring, Christ, to Thee our heav'nly King.

Holy Jesus, ev'ry day keep us in the narrow way;
And when earthly things are past, bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide, where no clouds Thy glory hide.

(As With Gladness Men of Old – W. C. Dix)


Thursday, 11 December 2008

Friday, December 12

The change is becoming greater now. Through many dangers, toils and snares you have already come; they have altered you. His promise has altered you as well, as has your living by it. You notice the difference not only in your circumstances, but in your very identity. You are learning your new name, one that you did not choose, but which was given to you.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 17:1-5, 15-16
Isaiah 43:1
Luke 1:13, 20-22, 59-64
Revelation 2:17

In what ways has your journey changed who you are?


Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Thursday, December 11

Perhaps it was impatience, mistrust or even despair. Whatever the reason, you thought you had a better way. His way may seem higher, harder and completely unsafe, but it is always ultimately good.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 16; 17:18-21
Proverbs 3:5-8
Isaiah 55:6-9
Matthew 1:18-25

In what ways have you attempted to take God's promise into your own hands, and how has His grace been shown despite your lack of faith?


Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Wednesday, December 10

You wouldn't be here still if you had not some moment of thrill or even terrible awe to hold on to. You hold it with a fierce and holy joy, for you are you certain. You cannot comprehend it fully, but you are certain... He was there.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 15:6-21
Exodus 3:1-6
Matthew 2:1-10
Luke 2:25-33

How has God shown Himself tangibly to you?


Monday, 8 December 2008

Tuesday, December 9

Your payment in exchange for a divine promise may not be what you expected. What did the father of many nations give? What did the mother of the nations' Saviour present? All who desire to enter this family must bring an offering in kind.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 15:6
Luke 1:38
Romans 4:16-24
Galatians 3:6-9, 29

What is the role and response of faith in pursuing God's promise?


Mary, Mary, ordinary

Mary, Mary, ordinary
How does your baby grow?
Your virgin womb is now in bloom
But how can this be so?

Mary, Mary, ordinary
How does your baby grow?
God Most High has whispered nigh
His favour now I know

Mary, Mary, ordinary
How does your baby grow?
The seed of God in human sod
The Spirit has bestowed

Mary, Mary, ordinary
How does your baby grow?
Emmanuel is pleased to dwell
In flesh, his face to show


We are the heavens

You are Polaris
Steady north in my shifting sky
A bright spark of strength
Drawing me by your invisible thread
To the center of the crisp night

I am the aurora
A swirling banner of colour
Swelling with the quick breaths of magnetism
I dance for a single star
You guide me out of dark spaces

We are the heavens
Declaring light solitary and joyous
The black velvet firmament is ours
A fixed mark and flowing wonder


Monday, December 8

Advent gives reason to reflect on the promises of the One who called you on this quest. They are meant to become a part of you, and to be remembered in every step. Some of His promises are granted in moments, others are stored up for the fullness of time. Yet they remain; that is their nature. That is His nature.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 12:2-3; 15:2-5
Micah 5:2-5a
Matthew 1:21-23
Luke 1:26-37

What promises has God given to you?


Saturday, 6 December 2008

Second Sunday of Advent - Star Gazers

Away from the lights of the town, the stars shine with more brilliance and depth. The longer you stare at them, the closer they become. Perhaps it's a trick of your eyes, but one star in particular seems to quiver and dance in the black velvet sky. The bleating of a sheep pulls you out of your star gazing and directs your focus back to the earth. The old man beside you is still staring up into the heavens, as if in a daze.

“It never works,” he announces suddenly, and with a twinkle in his eye.

You wonder if the night air is starting to take over his mind. “What never works?”

“Just try and count them,” he replies.

You return your gaze to the stars, if only to humour the poor traveler. One by one you pick the stars out, assigning them a number. Yet the more you count, the more they pop out of the blackness, till there is hardly a pinpoint of velvet left.

“Well?” the old man inquires.

“I lost count,” you admit, and are rewarded with a crooked yet completely sane smile.

“They're too numerous,” he says in triumph. “Yet there is always one you can pick out. You have to start somewhere, and all it takes is one . . . take that bright one just there. One star, one promise, one son.”

You wonder what he means. You also wonder about the star he pointed out, the same one you had noticed earlier. Even the shepherds around the fire are making mention of it. It is most unusual for this time of year, you hear them say. It must be a sign, one of them remarks. And then in a hushed tone, a sign from God.

“What do you think about signs from God?” you ask your companion. “Is there any way to tell if such things exist? How can they be validated?”

Now he is tugging at his beard, as if to bring back events and experiences of the distant past. Finally he speaks. “God gave me a sign in the heavens once. By it He promised the impossible. He wouldn't be God if the impossible were out of His reach, after all. Could I prove it? No. Did I believe it? Yes. I believed it with the same faith I began my search with. Without faith all the signs in the world would do no good.”

“So there is no way to prove it.” you say with disappointment.

“Oh there are many proofs. God likes to validate His word with His presence. He made more than a promise to me. He made a covenant, one that was irrevocable. At times I wonder why He did such a thing. I'm a human with miserable failings, full of fear, and many times I tried to take His promise into my own fumbling hands.”

You look down at his hands, now thick as leather, rubbing over and against each other to generate warmth. You think of your own failings, staring now at your own hands which have a journey's worth of dirt caked into them. “So He kept the agreement? Even when you didn't?”

“Yes.” The air grows silent between you. You are surprised to see a tear moistening the creases in the old man's face. “When He made the covenant, I offered a sacrifice. It was a night much like this. I waited in the darkness, not knowing what was to happen. And then He came. I saw the smoke from a fire I had not lit. And He said He would become like those lifeless animals if ever He broke His promise. There was nothing I could do to change that. It was more than a sign. It changed my life.”

His words stir up unnamable desire in you. There is something about this man that is wildly captivating. You can't help but wonder if your search holds a sign such as this.

“What did He promise?” you ask in anticipation.

Now he leans intently toward you. “A son in my barrenness. And so much more.”

Suddenly a light flashes above. All those around the fire instantly throw their heads back in wonder. The unusual star has exploded into blazing light, and it is not burning up.


Saturday, December 6

A song for the journey:

Sometimes I think of Abraham
How one star he saw had been lit for me
He was a stranger in this land
And I am that no less than he
And on this road to righteousness
Sometimes the climb can be so steep
I may falter in my steps
But never beyond Your reach

Oh God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You
Oh God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You
I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

(Sometimes By Step – Rich Mullins)


Friday, 5 December 2008

Friday, December 5

When you seem to lose sight of the goal of your travels, look for the signs that point to your destination. God graciously bestows moments of joy in your pilgrimage, to remind you of the eternal joy that will one day be yours. These gifts are not the goal; “they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited” (C. S. Lewis). Yet they are yours to embrace and enjoy as a promise of things to come.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Hebrews 11:13-16
Romans 8:18-22
1 Peter 1:3-5
2 Corinthians 5:1-9

What are the reminders around you that point to an inheritance that will never be found on this earth?

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Thursday, December 4

As you pass through this world on your search, a change comes over you. You no longer fit in. You look less and less like the citizens of earth, and begin to resemble that which you are looking for.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 23:3-4
Hebrews 11:9-10
Philippians 3:20-21
1 Peter 2:11-12

In what ways do you feel like a stranger in this world?


Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Wednesday, December 3

You are bound to be fearful at times. Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest hindrances to your next step, especially if that step is in darkness.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Hebrews 11:8
Genesis 12:10-13
Genesis 15:1
Isaiah 41:10

What are your greatest fears in your faith journey?


Monday, 1 December 2008

Tuesday, December 2

The very thought of Christmas may fill your heart with high expectations. Or, afraid of disappointment, you may not even acknowledge the secret hopes of your soul. Some hopes were meant to be fulfilled at the manger, by the advent of salvation on this earth. Other hopes await His second arrival, and the advent of our glorious perfection.

Take a rest on your journey to read these passages and ponder this question:
Genesis 12:4-9
Psalm 39:7; 130:5-8
Proverbs 13:12
Romans 8:23-25

What hopes and longings do you carry with you on your journey in this season?

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