I started Ann Voskamp’s Advent study The Greatest Gift last night. The verse is centered around the prophecy about Jesus which says he’s like a new branch growing out of the stump of David. From what they thought was dead, a Savior was born.
She encourages the reader to look for the small to find God:
Just where you are, look for the small glimpses of God-glory breaking in, breaking out, sprouting, shooting, unfurling, bearing fruit, making a Kingdom, remaking the world. Slow and still. And see the shoot that bears witness to God – the hardly noticed child, the hymn hummed over the sink, the unassuming woman bent at the register, the dog-eared Word of God beckoning from the shelf. Gaze on shoots of glory to grow deep roots in God.
The passage reminded me so much of yesterday’s post—finding hope in the small moments with our family.
Yes, that’s what it feels like—a new branch growing, unfurling, bearing fruit.
And then I got to the devotional section that I filled out during last Advent season. The first question asks “In what ways do you feel like a lifeless stump, longing for a tender shoot of hope?” I scratched down a few things and then in a one word sentence, simply wrote “Adoption.”
I was discouraged last year about the adoption. I had gotten to the point where you just wonder if you’d heard God wrong or maybe it was time to give up. Maybe God had changed his mind or we’d missed the boat somewhere. It did feel like a lifeless stump.
And then in the last question, it asks, “Where can you see new life coming in what you may have considered dead?”
My one strand of hope was an adoptive mom I had recently talked to who circumvented social services and had adopted privately. I wondered if this was our bit of hope, maybe there was another way for us.
Oh, how little did I know!
Not only was the stump not dead, but our new branch was found through DSS—the exact way I thought might be really, really dead.
And now I read those words I wrote last year and think oh my gosh, He did it. He really, really did it. Our new branch has burst forth from that lifeless stump. So much hope everywhere!
And in this particular Christmas season, I’m so overtaken with the hope of Christ. How much the Israelites must have felt like that dead stump too. A promised Savior not to be found. And then Mary and an angel and Joseph and a stable and I wonder if some of them thought too He did it! He really, really did it!
And it makes me think, man, if he can do this, he can do anything!
His power and omnipotence feel more real than it ever has.
So many of us still would still write so many things under the lifeless stump column—things or people we don’t think have any hope . I still have a few from last Advent season that still feel like a lifeless stump.
But I was so encouraged today. He knows them! Every single one. He’s working them out in his own time. It may not turn out how we envisioned, or in our timing, but you do not have an absent Father. When you’re following Him, He leads you down the right path, straight to the sprout He has promised.
Oh, how I am thankful for both of my sprouts this year, my Savior and my son.