Women and the Word

While We Wait: An Advent Reflection

The Wait

Gifts are wrapped and stockings are stuffed. Lights twinkle on the tree and candles flicker in homes and church candlelight services across the country. It’s Christmas  – one of my favorite times of the year. I love seeing little ones giddy with excitement. They’ve been waiting since before Thanksgiving when store shelves abruptly traded turkeys and leaves for Santa and snowflakes, and hope the wait will be worth it.

As children of God, we’re waiting too. Every one of us.

It’s why we celebrate Advent through the Christmas season.

Since the fall of man, the faithful in the Old Testament waited for the promised Messiah. They were waiting for a King. Their savior. Because many had their own ideas and assumptions of who He would be and what He would do, they missed the blessing. They failed to see Jesus as the Savior of the world and are still waiting for His first appearance.

Now, as Christ-believers, we wait for our Savior to return and make all things new – forever bridging the gap between our sin and the glory of the Father. Oh, what a day that will be!

Because we live in a broken world until Christ’s second coming, we wait for earthly dreams or needs to be fulfilled as well.

As you read this, you’re likely waiting for something.

Waiting to feel known. Waiting for a wayward child. Waiting to experience love. Waiting to be forgiven. Waiting for healing. Waiting for the fulfillment of a promise. Waiting to be understood.

The list is endless. And exhausting.

Waiting tries my patience and throws me into dependence. I can’t control the outcome in a waiting season and, to be completely honest, that’s the part I like least. My fleshly desire is to meddle – to open closed doors and close the open ones. I rush through the wait to find answers and create quick solutions.  

But what if we entered our time of waiting with a sense of eagerness instead of animosity?  What if we leaned in with anticipation rather than anxiety? What if we waited with hope instead of despair?

What if we changed our perspective entirely, and began to see the wait as part of the promise instead of a means to the end?

What if we believed that God was up to something and that the result would be as good as He is?

If we trust that God is sovereign, we need to trust that the wait fulfills a purpose. It may not look the way we wanted or prayed for, but the process itself can draw us into a deeper relationship with Christ, grow our faith, and refine us into something more beautiful than we imagined.

5 Things To Do While We Wait

Honest truth? I often don’t feel like reading the Bible, praying, or worshipping God in my waiting season, but these are imperative disciplines to growing our faith and, ultimately, glorifying God. If we want the wait to be productive, we need to be proactive. Setting healthy patterns and habits in our lives will ensure we are ready for the wait when it comes.

Here are things we can do in both preparation for a waiting season AND when we’re smack dab in the middle of it.

Meditate on the Word – 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  It’s ALL USEFUL. Read it, memorize it, meditate on it, sing it, study it.  It will teach you, rebuke you, correct you, and train you in righteousness. It will focus your attention on the truths of heaven rather than the things of earth.

Commit to a Bible Study in your church or with friends and keep “Study my Bible” at the top of your “To Do” list. If you need a place to start in your waiting season, try the book of James (be sure to look into what it means to have true joy when reading the first chapter) or an Old Testament book like Exodus or Daniel that speak of God’s sovereignty. Use one of our favorite Bible Study methods such as the Inductive Study to understand the incredible depth and truth of Scripture.

Pray – Seek God with your requests and be honest about your struggle through the wait (He really can handle it), but also ask Him for an open mind and heart as you wrestle through the uncertainty.  Be open to seeing things a different way and tell Him you trust Him with the process and the outcome.

Remember that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness – He hears our groans and intercedes for us when can’t find the words to speak (Romans 8:26). My favorite prayer of all time is known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ and can be found in Matthew 6:9-13. It gives all glory and rightful dominion to God while asking for His Kingdom to come and will to be done. It gives me peace and security during a time of waiting.

Worship – It’s easy for me to worship and praise when things are going well – A whole lot harder when they’re not. Go ahead and blast that music in the car and let the tears fall. Praise Him anyway.

I have absolutely been that lady at the red light with hands raised high and snot pouring out of my nose in worship.  On one occasion I even rolled down my window to assure a concerned woman in a neighboring vehicle that I was indeed OK – Just praising God.

Here are some songs to sing during a time of waiting:

Talk to a Trusted Friend – Emphasis on the word trusted here. Choose people who are valiant prayer warriors and gifted secret keepers. Be candid about your wait and ask them to wage war with you. One word of caution, though – Be sure to meditate on the Word of God, spend time in prayer, and worship the Almighty God yourself instead of just asking others to do it for you. Preaching to myself here, friends. I’ve been guilty of calling or texting a friend to pray and then not even doing it myself.  I’ve welcomed encouraging scriptures from sisters before seeking truth in my own study of His Word. Let’s just be sure to be women of discipline in the waiting season instead of idle women of chatter… Just sayin’.

Reflect – Use a journal or quiet time to remember what God has done in the past. These can be personal stories of His faithfulness through other waiting seasons, or ones that resonate from Bible study and meditation. If you’re a regular journal-keeper, spend time looking over past prayers/entries and look for the ways God blessed you in times of waiting or difficulty. Keeping a journal can be a beautiful way of accounting for the things you’re learning and giving Glory to God for His ongoing faithfulness.

The End

Maybe you’ll wake up Christmas morning and find that everything you’ve been waiting for is right in front of you. But probably not.

And it’s OK. Transformative, even, if we allow the wait to mold us and make us into new creations for His great glory.

As followers of Christ, we can be assured that the wait will end.  

In great glory.

Revelation 21 testifies to the abundance we’ll receive after Jesus returns to make all things new:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Until then, my friends, wait well. It will all be worth it in the end.

With great expectation,

Lisa

 

About the Author:

Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. With an M.Ed in Curriculum Development and a teacher by trade and passion, she writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen. As the director of Arise Ministries Collective in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Lisa believes every woman has a voice. She longs for the day when they find freedom to use it for the glory of God and the furthering of His Kingdom. Lisa is a recovering striver, lover of simplicity and thrift store junkie. She often has to convince people she’s an introvert. Just a loud one. Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

You Are God’s Masterpiece

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” -Ephesians 2:8-10, (emphasis added)

 

 The greatest artist of all calls you His masterpiece. The very one who took a desolate void and created light, separated land from sea, and spoke abundant vegetation and livestock into being then stood back in pleasure (Genesis 1) looks at you with the same admiration.

Take a moment to let this sink in, sister. Close your eyes and imagine yourself just as you are—every mistake, every joy, every heartache, and every scar. Now picture God in all His glory and perfection stepping back to admire each bit of you as His newest and most beautiful creation. He is the artist and the potter. You are His canvas and clay.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The Apostle Paul exhorts the church in Ephesus to take action. Understanding that each was exquisitely formed in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16) then birthed into a new creation upon belief and surrender to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10) was just the beginning. These masterpieces were not meant to simply hang on a wall, be placed in a cabinet, or set on a shelf to be admired.

They are masterpieces with a purpose.

There are things God planned and ordained for them to do.

 And while the Ephesians were created in that space and time for particular purposes, so were you created for this time and for specific good works.

It is not a mistake that you are alive and living in this season. It is not a mistake that you bear particular burdens and scars. It is not a mistake that you are unique and sometimes feel different and out of place. It is not a mistake that you have the neighbors, sphere of influence, gifts, talents, circumstances, and experiences that you do. Our great God has purposed and ordained you for such a time as this. A masterpiece designed to do “good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10).”

Take a moment to be silent before the Lord. Let images of past experiences, joys, traumas, or sorrows flood your mind and heart. As they do, lay them before your Father, and praise Him. Each and every one of those experiences has prepared you for the work He wants you to do right now. In this very moment. For His glory.

Ask our great God to reveal the specific role He has for you today and in the days to come. Wait quietly and listen to His voice. Make note of the people, places, and situations He brings to mind. Who needs to know Christ as their personal Savior? Where can you serve and bring the light of Jesus? How can you be the Church, and who can you invite to come alongside you? What do you need to say or do to bring glory to God and make His grace and truth known to others?

As you begin to process God’s particular purpose for you in this season, be assured that He is raising up your fellow sisters to do their own good works for the Kingdom. The author of Hebrews reminds us to “hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works (Hebrews 10:23-24, NLT, emphasis added).”

While Scripture is clear that we have the same Missio Dei—the mission of God to bring Him glory and make that glory known to the world (1 Corinthians 10:31, Matthew 28:16-20)—the way He uses us as individuals to manifest that calling will be different for each (1 Corinthians 12). We must rally around one another and spur one another on as we seek to love the lost, love the Church, and share the gospel.

Prayer and Worship

Close your time today by listening to this song. Use it as a prayer and resurrender your life for His Kingdom purpose. And then, sweet sister, take a step down from the shelf and let Him take you where He wants you to go. Start living as the unique masterpiece you are.

“Sails” by Pat Barrett

“Canvas & Clay” by Pat Barrett

About the Author – Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, a teacher, and an advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul, and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

Passion Week: A Resurrection Sunday Reflection

Scripture for Today

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:5-9 (NIV)

Things to Think About

Psalm 22 foreshadows Jesus’ death. The suffering savior quotes David in some of his last words:  

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  

The psalmist goes on to ask, “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”   

As our Saturday gives way to Sunday the cries become a rhythm to our days. Yet, in the early morning of dawn, when the world seems to be it’s quietest and the sun begins to ask the night sky to back away, we read the rest of the Psalm:

“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”

I wonder whether Jesus’ words on the cross were meant to lead us to this passage written so many years before. 

I wonder if he knew we may feel an extent of his suffering, too – forsaken, neglected, isolated, alone.

Then the dawn awakens and our Lord points to the rest of the Psalm. Like a guide on a trail, he shows the way up the hill and leads us to these words. Reminding us, He has done it.  

He has done it.

He has risen from the dead and taken his place in the heavens.

He has conquered death and birthed everlasting life.

He has traded sorrow for joy, bondage for freedom, doubt for truth, fear for peace. 

With all the chaos in our hearts and uncertainties in our lives, we can rest. Not because it’s easy, but because the grave is empty and the body not there.

Just as he said.

Could we, this Easter, when our worlds feel unsettled, rejoice with the same passion and amazement as those who first learned of Jesus’ resurrection?

I wonder.

 

About the Co-authors


Marnee Alfson
is an EMDR trained trauma specialist in private practice in Vancouver, WA.  Marnee received her training under the direction of leading author and developer of Story Informed Trauma Therapy (SITT), Byron Kehler, MS. She has worked with survivors of various traumas such as sexual and/or domestic assault, displacement, first responders, attachment in relationships, body image, life transitions and mood management.

She believes we gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience we choose to walk through.  Trauma recovery therapy is an important part of hope in helping other survivors live their lives free of the pain they have experienced.

 

Lisa Da Silva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word.  She writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen.

Lisa is a teacher by trade and passion, voice for the marginalized, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, authenticity, and all things pretty. She enjoys thrift store shopping and often has to convince people she’s an introvert.  Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

 

 

 

 

Passion Week: A Good Friday Reflection

Scripture for Today

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  Matthew 27:45-54 (ESV).

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:1-8 (ESV)

 

Things to Think About

Good Friday has long been my very favorite day of the year. That might sound strange, but I thrive at night amid the dark, quiet church services where light and shadow dance together on the sanctuary walls surrounding each waxy candle. The whole theme of the day is so reflective and real, and my melancholy heart is drawn to the familiar beauty of a wounded healer. A suffering savior.

This year, though, I find myself resisting the story altogether. It isn’t that I disbelieve or don’t find it meaningful, but it’s just so…heavy. Good Friday in the midst of a pandemic isn’t exactly a walk through the park (are those even allowed anymore?). I’m tired from reading daily stories about death and suffering. My heart feels spent from keeping up with the news cycle and worrying about the people I love: Wondering if we’ll all have food, if my friends can pay their rent, if the nurses will have masks. I sob imagining the lonely memorials as people bury their loved ones at a time when no one is allowed to come together; not allowed to hug or hold hands. There is so much pain all around us, and yet we are isolated. Tired. Reading the detailed account of one more death today feels like it just might break me. 

Maybe you feel the same. I don’t know where your heart is today, but I can bet it is heavy. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of our prayers sound a bit like Jesus’ prayer on the cross:

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” 

Oof. Take a deep breath as you read those words. Can you believe they were said by JESUS, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the celebrated Christmas Babe… The Savior of the world? 

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

This haunting prayer was a quote from and a reference to Psalm 22, a Psalm of David, which Jesus and his onlookers would have known by heart. It is an aching hymn about physical and emotional, existential suffering, crying out to God in unflinching desperation. This is a song my own heart knows all too well, and I am shaken by the knowledge that Jesus understands. 

Reflecting on the details of the gory lynching of the 33 year old God-man, Jesus, might be too much for us today as we stumble our way through both the shared and solitary traumas of life during a pandemic. But maybe we can find comfort and rest for our worn-through souls by knowing that whatever the details of our own reality right now: God understands. 

Jesus showed us on the cross that he is not afraid of our violent terrors or hidden cries, because he cried them, too. He is not afraid of the darkness because he took darkness into himself, bearing the crushing weight of all the sin of all mankind. God is not afraid of our questions, confusion, or doubt. He is not disgusted by our shame, and he isn’t surprised or taken aback by the constant, gnawing frailty of our humanness.

In fact. He welcomes it all. He welcomes us.

The cross of Christ is an altar, a monument, a welcome sign. It is a testament of love and a dark symbol of a bright reality: Jesus came to be with us, no matter the cost us, and he understands the way we feel. 

Take another deep breath, my friends: 

Jesus understands, and God is near.

 

About the Author: Alyssa Zimmerman, like you, is incredibly loved by God. She anxiously offers up her cynicism, fear, and mustard-seed-faith in return. Constantly amazed by grace and relieved by redemption, Alyssa pursues truth, love, justice and Jesus in the midst of disabling chronic pain which has shaped the vast majority of her life and foiled her dreams for college, career, and a family. Instead, Alyssa became a high school dropout, living in poverty and pain, forced to spend most days in bed with an icepack. Nevertheless, she is committed to the great and messy work of therapy and mental health, wishing deep-down healing and wholeness for all.

At home among the trees, the mountains, and the drizzling rain, Alyssa is a PNW native. She is passionate about living vulnerably, wrestling with the hard questions of faith, and pushing beyond the confines of our modern western evangelical culture in the hope of better understanding the fullness of God’s love and more indiscriminately extending it to all. She is a great lover of wit and silence, watcher of documentaries, drinker of tea, and excessive taker of mediocre phone pics.

Passion Week: A Holy Thursday Reflection

Scripture for Today

“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” Exodus 12:13

“Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Mathew 26:27-29

Things to Think About

As we reflect on Jesus’ last meal and betrayal this Holy Thursday, and anticipate his sacrifice and resurrection, may we also take into consideration the great significance of this day in the lives of God’s chosen people. As written in the book of Exodus, God delivered the Isrealites from captivity hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ coming. Not only was Jesus anticipating his own death on this night, he was also celebrating his father’s sovereignty and provision. 

We as Christians refer to Jesus’ last meal as The Last Supper, but for hundreds of years the Jewish people revered it and celebrated it as Passover. They practice Seder, a meal where each dish symbolically reflects the food the Isrealites ate while fleeing Egypt. The holiday takes place every year and is one of the single most important days of the Jewish calendar. It is referenced throughout the Bible and is notably referred to when young Jesus travels to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover with his family, gets lost, and is found in the temple talking theology with some religious leaders. But that’s a different story (albeit a great one).

The point is this: Passover was extremely important to the Jewish people, including Jesus and his disciples (who were also Jewish). 

Why is this significant? 

I think there are many reasons, but here are a few to think about:

    • The holiday symbolizes deliverance and celebrates God’s provision and sovereignty. It’s no coincidence that Jesus decides to publicly announce that he will sacrifice himself for the forgiveness of sins on Passover. God’s timing is always perfect. 
    • Jesus talking about the wine and bread on this night were normal and expected – They were significant parts of the traditional Passover meal. Where it starts to get weird is when Jesus goes off script and refers to them as the blood and body. The disciples were taken aback by Jesus’ additions to the traditional Passover language, but we often refer to them when taking communion or celebrating the Eucharist.
    • I used to wonder why the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus was about to die after he asked them to all get together for dinner to chat about God’s covenant, bread, and wine. It seemed obvious to me that this was his “farewell” meal. I now understand that this wasn’t a random get-together in an upper room to pour some wine and eat some bread. It was completely expected – Like a family gathering on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
    • God’s covenant and Old Testament scripture references were fresh in the minds of Jesus’ listening disciples. They knew what Jesus was talking about when he references God’s covenant to His people; on this night more than ever.
    • Jesus knew he was going to die the next day. He knew he would be betrayed by someone he loved that night. But he celebrated Passover and remembered God’s provision anyway. He praised God alongside his friends despite an internal knowledge of the future. He taught despite fear. He served despite suffering.

Today, let us do the same. Let us praise God for his deliverance and sovereignty despite our own fear, suffering, or struggles facing the world today. Let us remember God’s faithfulness on this Holy Thursday, just as Jesus did. Let us wonder about His perfect timing and trust that it will continue.

About the Author: Maya DaSilva is a high school junior who just got her driver’s license but rarely remembers where the keys are.

She enjoys wondering about how faith and culture intersect, and believes thinking leads to change – Even when we don’t have all the answers. 

She thinks quiet voices are still meant to be heard. 

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