Well, here we are, in the middle of the Advent season, just 6 days until Christmas.
Are things starting to feel, well, a little more "Christmasy" around your home this week?
I know they are in my home - in fact, today is Baking Day! It's going to smell a lot more like Christmas this evening with all the fresh baked cookies hanging out in the kitchen.
Let's just hope that they last until Christmas!
Last week, I shared Part 2 of a series I've been writing for my church this Advent season. Today's post is Part 3 of that series. In case you missed Parts 1 and 2, here are the links to that post:
A Fresh Look at Advent - Part 1
A Fresh Look at Advent - Part 2
The story centers around one family, giving a glimpse at real life during this season. I invite you to read along as we find our way to the heart of Christmas.
"He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed" - Luke 4:18
Her phone was buzzing again as it lay there on the coffee table. It was the third text in as many minutes and she knew without even looking who it was from. “Grrr…I don’t feel like talking right now, Ash!” Jenna said with frustration as she picked up the phone. Ashley might be her best friend, but right now she couldn’t handle a conversation with her.
Their argument yesterday at the gym rolled through her mind again – actually, she hadn’t stopped thinking about it at all. Her heart was just sick as she recalled the angry words they’d exchanged. She and Ashley had been friends since they were 7, meeting at the gym in their first tumbling class. They had been pretty much inseparable ever since. Where you would find one, you most likely would find the other. That is until Brian came along.
Brian and Ashley had started going out at the beginning of the school year. As a sophomore, Ash couldn’t believe that someone like Brian – a senior – would be interested in her. Jenna knew better though. Even if Ash didn’t realize, it was obvious that every guy in school would have killed to get next to her. In fact, many of them had tried, only to discover that she wasn’t the kind of girl they were looking for. One of the things Jenna loved most about Ashley was that as beautiful as she was on the outside, she was just as beautiful on the inside. Their friendship had grown strong over the fact that they both loved the Lord. They had always been active in their church’s youth group and had even gone on a few mission trips together. But all that changed when Ash started seeing Brian.
Everyone at school knew him – being the captain of the basketball team in a school that lived and died by its wins and losses, he was pretty much the BMOC. Brian had it all when you looked at the outside; good looking, nice car, rich parents and unbelievably good grades. But it was the Brian that Ashley had come to know that had Jenna worried. If everyone knew what he was really like, some of the stuff he was into, they’d all be surprised. That was what their argument had been about yesterday. And it was killing her because there seemed to be nothing she’d been able to say to change Ash’s mind about her decision.
“I love him Jenna. He loves me too, how can it be wrong?” Ashley had repeated that several times during their fight, almost as if she was convincing herself of its truth. “You know, he’s going to break up with me if I don’t and I know I can’t handle that Jen. It’s almost Christmas, how would you feel?”
Jenna sat up in her beanbag chair and stared at the fireplace. How would she feel? That was a great question. Just two weeks now until Christmas. She loved this season - this year more than ever. Her parents had sat her down last week and told her what was up with them lately, how they’d both pushed Jesus aside because they’d been focused on all the wrong things. She got that; was seeing it now with Ash. Jenna looked over at the nativity scene on their hearth and saw that Baby Jesus was still missing– she remembered her Mom sitting on the floor with all of the Christmas garland piled up around her – that had been kind of funny. The manger looked weird without Jesus in it and the other figures seemed pretty lonely without him there. Guess that’s how we’d all feel if Jesus was missing from our lives, Jenna thought to herself. I know he’s not been on Ash’s mind lately. It was all about Brian, nothing but Brian 24/7. It was almost like he was holding her prisoner.
“I just don’t get it” Jenna said as she looked at the phone in her hand, “how can she be so blind?”
“She just doesn’t see it, Lord”, Jenna prayed. “She doesn’t see how bad she’s caught up in Brian’s world. Is this what it means to be unequally yoked? Or is that just for marriage? Either way, God, she’s tied her life all up in his and I’m so afraid for her. He’s just dragging her down and now, Lord, she’s about to make the worst decision of her life. I don’t know how to stop her, she wouldn’t listen to me yesterday and now she’s texting me again. What do I say? Please, Lord, show me what to do. She needs you now more than ever. Your word says that you came to set the captives free and if she’s not a captive to Brian then I don’t know what to call it.”
Just then, Jenna heard her Mom in the hallway, calling for her Dad to come help her with something outside. Mom was awesome, really. She’d always been able to talk to her about anything. She didn’t freak out like Ashley’s Mom over little stuff. What was cool – though she’d never tell her Mom this – was that she had a way of getting her to make good choices without telling her what to do. And they prayed together, which just made them closer and Jenna knew that was special.
It suddenly occurred to Jenna that there was her answer – at least a start – go talk to her Mom. She would know just what to say and she would listen and pray over it with her. Even though she’d be heartbroken for Ashley, she’d be calm about it all and help her figure out what to do next.
“Lord, thank you for my Mom and thank you that I can tell her anything. I know you don’t want Ashley to walk any further away from you, and I trust you now to draw her back. Use me, Jesus, to show her that you don’t need to be missing from her life anymore.” With that, Jenna got up, took her Bible off the table and headed down the hall to find her Mom.
With a Courageous Heart,