Have you been watching any Hallmark Christmas movies this season? I do not spend a lot of time watching television or movies, but I’d likely be a little embarrassed to admit how many of these flicks I’ve watched over the last couple years. My husband thinks the shows are ridiculous, my brother claims they are way too predictable, and my kids say the movies always end with a beautiful snowfall and a couple falling in love. Honestly, I don’t really care if they are predictable, they are good clean entertainment and simple to follow.
Life isn’t always as predictable as these ninety minute Christmas stories. When I was a teenager, I decided I would go to college to be an architect, settle in a big city, help people build their dream homes and eventually start my family. It was a picture perfect vision of what my future would look like and yet through a series of events, my life turned out very differently than I had planned. I actually found myself engaged before I even started college. Never in a million years did I anticipate marrying a guy who loved to farm or living in rural Rock County. Fast-forward twenty five years and there is not one part of God’s plan for my life I would trade for my own ideas.
God has had a plan to redeem His people from the very beginning of time and we read about that plan throughout the pages of scripture. Several hundred years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah shared a prophecy – or a prediction – to the people of Israel. It was a powerful message of both judgement and hope. Isaiah warned the people to repent of their ways because the Prince of Peace was coming and He would sit on David’s throne and over his kingdom. (Isaiah 9:6-7) It took Isaiah’s words about 400 years to happen, but when they did, the people missed it. While they had cried out for a Messiah, the events that took place when Jesus was born were so far from what the people thought would happen many refused to believe He was indeed the Messiah. As Jesus grew and began His ministry the people knew He was special, but many remained puzzled if He really was the Messiah. We read in the book of Matthew Jesus asking the disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (16:13) They reply with a variety of answers, and then Jesus focuses in on Peter and asks, “What about you? Who do you say I am?” (vs.15) Peter knew exactly who Jesus was because as he had been intimately following his Teacher. God revealed Jesus’ true identity to Peter and his answer was, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (vs.16) Peter knew his life had forever been changed and his days of tangled fishing nets were but a distant memory.
While I would never compare a silly Hallmark Christmas movie to God’s great love story in the Bible, we too know how His story of redemption ends. One day Jesus will come to this sin-filled world again and rescue His people from darkness. His entrance to this world will look different than the first time and, once again, the arrival time is only known by the Father. While on earth, Jesus instructed us to “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matt. 24:42).
Advent is a time we not only look back at His birth, but forward to His second coming with great anticipation. It is also a season to ask ourselves if we are keeping watch. Are we spending time in the scriptures and with our Father to know our Savior like Peter did? No matter how troubled our situation or how evil the world becomes, we must continue to be God’s faithful people who hope for His return and not complacently wait for the ending to take place or we will miss it just like many of the people did all those years ago.