The Advent Collective – 3 December 2020

The Advent Collective is a new daily reflection drawing from Bible passages that are commonly read in this season of Advent.  Our hope is that it will help us to grow as we live out our faith in the everyday moments of life.

Welcome to The Advent Collective day 4.

Years back I took a big trip to Ikea & took someone with me for the ride.

As we set off my co-pilot made it very clear he never used a sat nav on the grounds of principle.  I always use a sat nav.  It was an awkward moment because he made the strong argument that Sat Navs (in his view) ruined our map reading skills. Therefore we should keep these vital skills alive and take any opportunity to read a map.

I chose the path of least resistance and let him let him map read.

It didn’t make for a relaxing journey.

At key motorway junctions a silent tension descended as he poured over the map.  Flipping the pages back and forth muttering to himself.

All the time I was thinking:  use the sat nav mate.

I honestly don’t know what it achieved.  We couldn’t really talk much because he was concentrating so hard on map reading.

When I think of that story I do chuckle.  But then I do ask myself- how good am I at following advice?  If my life was a like van ride to IKEA would I insist on reading the map?  Who would I really trust?

Our reading today is Isaiah 7: 10-17 – in particular verse 14 which says this:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

In chapter 5 we meet King Ahaz and he’s under pressure.  The surrounding countries & kingdoms which are bigger and more powerful than Judah looking ready to to attack. Previously with God’s help Judah had withstood an attack on Jerusalem.  This episode shook King Ahaz and his people – they were terrified and it left a deep scar.  Ahaz now looking at his own resources figured that they wouldn’t survive another sustained attack.

In verses 3-11 Isaiah appeals to Ahaz reminding him of God’s faithfulness.  He prophesies that the surrounding nations will come to nothing.  He implores Ahaz to trust God.  To ask God for a sign.  To put his faith in Him.

My natural posture when I’m under pressure,  when I’m overwhelmed and feel like I’m on the back foot is to try and sort stuff out myself.

Ahaz has a choice.  What does he do?  He compromises Judah and ignores Isaiah and signs political treaty with the surrounding nations.  He fixes it himself.

His fear is too great and his self reliance too tempting.

If verse 14 reveals anything it’s the reminder that God does not give up on us.  Where Ahaz’ plan to rescue himself comes to nothing.  Isaiah speaks of a time coming when God in his grace will come to us in flesh and blood:  Immanuel – God with us.

Who or what we listen to can – like my sat nav phobic friend reveal our levels of self reliance.  From the silly things like refusing to follow a Sat Nav to more serious things like am I listening to the very words of God?

Why not look back over the past few weeks and ask yourself this question – when did I last ask someone for advice?  Where have I made myself vulnerable – released a bit of control and have an unguarded conversation – and say ‘hey, I’m not sure what to do here but….’   Where have I allowed someone to speak wisdom – even prophetically into my heart?

Like Ahaz from time to time we’re all faced with giants – seemingly huge challenges.  But it’s important that in those moments we surrender self reliance & listen to the words of God about who he is and where he’s directing us.