Advent Devotion: Keeping Our Hearts Focused on God

Post a Comment » Written on December 11th, 2003     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (December 11, 2003)  – This Advent Season, Covenant Communications  has been posting devotionals taken from some of the than 250 church  newsletters and email updates we receive each month from throughout the  Evangelical Covenant Church. Today’s comes from Harold Larsen, interim  pastor of Life Covenant Church, Monroe, Washington.

There’s snow in the air today so there is no denying it. “The Holiday  Season” has arrived – that special time that begins with Thanksgiving  Day and electrifies until Christmas, then slowly fades away into a New  Year. As a child it seemed it would never come! I couldn’t wait until we  climbed into Dad’s old Chevy, drove across town, onto the ferry and  then, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we’d  go…”

Mom was one of 12 children. Most were married and had families, and  everyone was sure to be there! We city kids would rush outside to enjoy  the farm, its animals, the barn with its haymow to tumble in, and the  beachfront to hunt for crabs and skip rocks across the water.

By the time dinner was ready we were famished! Soon, both the large  dining room table and the long narrow kitchen table were surrounded by  our hungry clan, eyes bulging as we gazed at tables laden with  absolutely everything the traditional Thanksgiving feast should have.

It was the height of the Depression, so meals like that happened only  twice a year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The sight and the smells  beckoned us to dig in! But no one would think of touching a thing until  Grandfather bowed and poured out his heartfelt thanks for, what to him  was, clear evidence of the abundance of God’s generous grace! Not that  it had come easily.

Each family had scrapped and saved to help make those moments what they  were for all of us. But we only could because God had provided. Thanks  for food. And for family, oh yes, for family! And for this country that  had welcomed them as immigrants and had provided opportunities that had  made these moments possible. But there was more. So much more!

Poorly educated by today’s standards but truly wise, Grandpa knew where our blessings really come from! Grandpa knew God intimately and  truly loved him. Christmas prayers focused more on a babe in a manger  than Thanksgiving Day prayers did. But God and his grace, rather than  the “things” he provides were always the focus of Grandpa’s  prayers, because the awesome goodness of God was always the focus of his  thoughts. And, when we had all become quiet and bowed our heads and he  began to talk to God, we knew God was there with us listening!

I have never forgotten those prayers offered by a truly grateful man of  God! Nor, I’m sure, have any of the others who stood, so aware of God’s  presence as he prayed.

Many years have passed since those simpler days. So much has changed.  There’s far more to distract us from God’s bountiful gift of food,  family and home, and, yes, of the babe in the manger, the Christ child,  who came to make a way for us to gather at the ultimate banquet, where  God himself would provide the food. Food for life eternal.

Can we live amid all the distractions that will come in the weeks just  ahead, and still keep our hearts focused on God? Oh yes we can. We know  we can. But only if we make, and keep, a commitment to do so!

Will you? Will I? With all the shopping and decorating and cooking and  partying to be done, will we? Please pray for me and the rest of our  church family and I’ll pray for you. Our children and grandchildren,  too, deserve to carry treasured memories of hearing us offer prayers of  praise and Thanksgiving that come from hearts so conscious of God’s  awesome grace. They too will know that not the gifts or the food, but he  is our focus this holiday season.

To read devotionals posted earlier, visit the following:

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