Advent: That’s Impossible
“Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18)
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)
I’m sorry, what are you saying God? Based on my current circumstances and what I ‘know’ this doesn’t seem possible. This is not how things are done. How is that supposed to work?
During Advent, I’m looking at ways God came near in Jesus’ birth and what that may tell us about ways he is near us today. God has a long track record of doing the impossible. So much so with relationship with God it becomes normal to expect the unexpected and to assume that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
I always feel more comfortable telling as complete a story as possible about the impossible—at least my experience of it. I’ve had God blow my mind and paradigms over and over again, demonstrating all kinds of ways how good, loving, out of control and crazy (based on certain human perspectives) he is. And as I continued to make choices to put myself in situations and do things that depended on God ‘showing up’ I would continually see and experience things considered dramatic like healings, manifestations, mighty deeds and miracles as well as the less dramatic like peace, joy, perseverance, forgiveness, love for ‘enemies’, daily resources to handle everyday situations, the ever-present mercy of his presence.
But, like I hear in the stories of Zechariah and Mary and many others in the biblical narrative faced with the risk of relationship with God I have also experienced many other things that go along with the impossible: the personal doubts; the disappoints and pain of expectations unfulfilled; confusion, questioning/judgments and sometimes outright rejection by others; the responsibility of more; the humility and at times humiliation of weakness and vulnerability; feeling out of control and afraid; and the list goes on, particularly for those in contexts of overt persecution.
When it comes to experiencing God as near, of living life in the Spirit, this is all part of it, the risk and the reward. We experience the sufferings of Christ, along with getting to see, experience and do what seems impossible. It’s all part of what Jesus tells his disciples they are blessed to experience: “For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Matt 13:17): Immanuel, God with us.