Rest: [Take a few moments of silence. Then slowly pray these words.]
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Read: [Meditate on the scripture of the week.]
Reflect: [Use this devotional thought for a moment of reflection. Today’s devotional is written by Paul Houghton.]
The fascinating thing to me about the Old Testament is the way it foretells the arrival of Jesus centuries before He (in human form) is born. God’s story of redemption is in constant motion throughout the Old Testament. It sets the table for what we know takes place in the New Testament – Christ’s arrival and, ultimately, our redemption.
“As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.'” Mark 1:2
It’s amazing to me to think of all the people God has used, century after century, to tell His story. The final book in the Old Testament was written four hundred years before Christ’s birth. That’s four centuries. The arrival of Jesus is foretold through ancient scripture by Isaiah, whose words are reiterated by Mark hundreds of years later when he references Isaiah’s foretelling of John the Baptist, who “appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mark 1:4) As the authors of scripture express their desire for restoration and peace while awaiting their Messiah, the central theme that stands out to me is not that of mere waiting, but of active waiting.
One of my top five movies of all time is The Shawshank Redemption. Whenever it comes on TV, I start watching, no matter what part of the movie is playing. The main character, Andy Dufresne, expresses a theme of hope throughout the movie, not only for escape, but also to avoid being defined by the walls of the brutal prison he is confined to. Andy eventually gains his freedom, but he didn’t spend his twenty years inside of Shawshank sitting idle, waiting and hoping for his freedom to one day happen upon him (what a boring movie that would’ve been). Instead, Andy was active behind the scenes, in the still of the night, chipping away at his tunnel day by day, year by year, with the cover only of a movie poster.
Andy had an active role in his restoration story using exactly the tools he was given – his brains and his pickaxe. He waited, but he waited with hope. And he made the best of his time at Shawshank spreading his hope through his passion for bettering the lives of his fellow inmates. I believe God calls us to be active participants in His restoration story, and we are each given unique gifts and a unique skillset to contribute to His work. I think that’s why we have this time on earth to spend in the first place, before eternity.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise… Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3: 8-9)
Today, take 10-15 minutes and actively wait before the Father asking Him how you can be a part of another’s restoration story. Reach out to whomever He places on your heart and offer them the hope and peace of 2 Peter 3:8-9.