A reading and reflection for December 2, 2012.
The first day of Advent.
Click "Read More."
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
I think the season of Advent can be summarized nicely by the passage here in Psalm 25 where the poet writes: "Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long."
Isn't that why we worship during this season? To be led by God into his truth, to be taught by God's spirit, to be prompted to confess again that God is our salvation? Yet each of these three things involves God doing something to us. We don't lead ourselves into truth. We don't teach ourselves about God. And we can't possibly confess God's complete sovereignty over our salvation on our own.
And that's the whole point, it seems to me.
Advent is a season of waiting. It's a season of stretching out your arms (literally and metaphorically!) and taking a deep breath and waiting. Waiting all day long, all week long, all month long. Waiting for God to lead us into truth. Waiting for God to teach us. Waiting for God to inspire in us a new measure of faith. And yet this kind of waiting is not just passive, not just sitting in your armchair with your coffee (as tempting as that might seem!).
To properly wait for the Lord (one major theme of Advent), we look to the opening phrase of this passage: "To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul." In Hebrew, the word we translate as "soul" is a complex word that means more than just that invisible part of you that you really don't know how to talk about. The word tries to capture the essence of what it means to be human, the animating force that causes your heart to beat, and your synapses to fire; it's the thing that you need for others to say: "Yeah, she's alive."
So, to lift up one's soul is to place before God the very thing that makes you human. We consecrate, we set apart, we lift up our entire human essence before God. Every waking moment, every breath, every prayer, everything we read, every conversation we have, every place we go.
As Christians we believe that all of our lives are lived coram Deo (before God). And therefore, everything we do is done in the presence of a God who we trust will gather up our failed attempts and our incomplete stories, who will surround us with his Spirit, who will speak to us his Word, and who will show us what true living entails.
During the course of your day today, try to find five minutes in which you can stop working or reading or checking Facebook and take long deep breaths. As you inhale, pray: "To you, O Lord" and as you exhale, say: "I lift up my soul." Repeat this and consider the fact that God has given you a life to live for his glory.