This year our family is spending Christmas with my sister and her husband in their home in Kotzebue, Alaska. We flew into their village of 3,000 north of the Arctic Circle on Sunday evening to spend our last holiday season in the States for sometime with family and guarantee ourselves a white Christmas. We have filled our last days of this Advent season with new adventures, extreme temperatures, and unforgettable memories being made.

The themes of both waiting and darkness have been real to me in a new way this Advent season.

into the wild (1)

Our life in some ways feels like a perpetual Advent season right now. We know that our move to Ecuador is on the horizon, but no tickets have been purchased; there is no firm date in place. There is a turning, a transition, a shift about to happen, but the timeline is still unknown to us due to the nature of fundraising. And so, we wait. Our waiting, however, is not passive. It is full of preparation and participation. Full of plans and productivity. But then we wait some more. And I am coming to realize just how hard this is for me. I would much rather venture in to all of this and have more predictable outcomes. I would like some more control. I would like to spend my days checking items off on my to-do list being guaranteed a return. But this season for us doesn’t seem to follow this linear model like I would like it to. And it is serving as a reminder that it is much like the Kingdom work that we as God’s people have been called to. We labor and participate and then we find ourselves waiting. Waiting for outcomes that we see fit, instead of trusting in the unfolding story of our God that does not fit neatly with our expectations. And as much as I love and want to cling to this upside-down Kingdom, it makes me uncomfortable in so many ways. It continues to mess with the ways that I want to order things and forces me to step out in faith when I want to see secure footing in front of me. This Kingdom tears down the systems that vie for my trust and distract me from the needs of others. This Kingdom causes me to wait. To pause. To reorient. To trust. To let go and wait some more.

And then there is the darkness. As I talked about some in my last post, darkness has felt so very real, present and invading this Advent in the world around us. And now I find myself in a land where there is an actual absence of light this time of year. We haven’t seen the sun rise above the horizon since we arrived. The light gathers near the edge of this little slice of earth, but its source is never revealed. And now that we are on this side of the winter solstice, the light will begin to gather more and more everyday and the sun will slowly begin to creep back up over the horizon line and reveal itself once more. But I can see how here in the darkness it might be hard to trust at times that the sun will return once again. Or in this season, the light appears and begins to gather and then disappears again all too quickly. At times this Christian life seems much the same. In the midst of the darkness of this world, we see light begin to break through. This light appearing from stark darkness is beautiful in a way that is so unique, much like the perpetual pastel tones on the horizon here while the sun is making its path back into the sky. However, I find myself despairing when the light, when the inroads of the Kingdom, seem to disappear again all to quickly, the beauty is forgotten and we find ourselves again surrounded by darkness. But this Advent season calls us to live as people who remember that indeed “light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it”.



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