The trees on highway 31 were clothed in shades of golden yellow and brown, crimson red, and bright apricot. The long drive to The Hermitage was a beautiful sight to behold. My husband and I were on our way to a contemplative Christian retreat center in Three Rivers, Michigan, where we would join 11 other strangers in a weekend of silence and rest in God’s presence. My soul was weary. As I stared at the exquisitely painted trees flashing by through my passenger’s seat window, I told the Lord how ready I was for a weekend of holy leisure.
A weekend of seeking Him in the sacredness of silence in community with other God-seekers. But although my soul was ready for it, my mind still worried about not knowing what to expect and stepping into the unknown, as this was my first guided silent retreat.
What if I didn’t hear Him in the silence?
What if I had nothing to offer Him?
What was He expecting of me?
As these frantic thoughts ran through my mind, I heard the Spirit’s still, small voice lean in close and whisper gently, “Come as you are, Beloved.” There was no expectation. Only an invitation to come as I was and rest in Him, allowing Him to lead our sweet time together.
I share this story with you because we find ourselves preparing for Advent. A time of anticipating, expecting, and celebrating the coming birth of our Savior. The in-between time of almost, but not quite yet. And while our Savior comes to us – praise be to God – there’s a coming that we’re invited into as well.
Adventus, the Latin word for Advent, means to come.
This time of waiting and anticipating is its own extended invitation from God to come as we are, to come and behold the miracle of God with us. No expectations, no regulations, no have-to, just the invitation to come and behold the glory of God and receive the Love He has to give.
But maybe this Advent season, you feel like me as I made my way to The Hermitage. You feel your soul longing for the Savior’s coming, but your mind worries about how you don’t measure up or fit into this kind of Christmas story. Instead of surrendering and receiving, maybe you feel like you have to pretty yourself up before coming to the manger.
Well, I have good news for you, my friend.
Even in our woundedness, He calls to us.
Even in our shame, He calls to us.
Even in our worry and fear, He calls to us.
Even in our wandering and questioning and wrestling, He calls to us.
He beckons us to come without expectation or hesitation, always and forever.
The prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 55:1 solidifies this sacred invitation to come to Jesus as we are,
You are invited to simply receive His coming as a gift and come as you are to the God who gives Love freely and expects nothing in return. Your own coming to Him with all you are and all you carry is the only gift He desires this Advent season.
Your own bended knee, your own empty, surrendered hands, your own battered heart; this is what He desires. Because Jesus came to heal the sick, to sit with us sinners, to bring freedom to the captives, and quench the dry, weary, and thirsty.
He didn’t come for the pretty and perfect. He came for the real you. The “you” that’s authentic, human, and beautifully broken.
Come, friend, and adore the God that comes to you right where you are.
Thank you for making a way for me to come to you freely, just as I am. I praise you for the sweet way in which you unconditionally love and care for me; all the ways your Love constantly pursues me. I pray that you would help me respond to your invitation to come and behold you with longing and courage in my heart this Advent season.
My guest today
Celia A. Miller is a writer and God-seeker who contemplatively helps you slow down, seek still moments, and behold God’s presence with you in the everyday. She’s the author of a Bible study titled, You Are Beloved and recently released an Advent eBook devotional on her Etsy shop, The Beholding Co., called Be Still & Know: Helping You Seek Still Moments in God’s Presence this Advent Season.