[ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Slywka loves following Jesus alongside her husband, Jonathan. She is excited to become a mom in the spring.]
Of course, I write this post about pregnancy. My apologies for the predictability and shameless cliché-ness, but it’s difficult to ignore parallels in the Advent season when you are a pregnant woman. Never before now have I understood what it felt like for Elizabeth to feel her baby leaping in her womb when she heard the greeting of Mary. Never before now have I understood eager anticipation and awaiting such an arrival. Never before now have I understood the miracle of a baby being knit together in a womb. Cliché, yes – but also, honest. So bear with me.
One thing I have come to appreciate in the past 6 months is the mystery of pregnancy. It has been a strange experience to have little control over my growing belly. Perhaps it is my personality, but perhaps it is the newness and miracle of it all. Forced into surrender, I’ve had to embrace weight gain and maternity pants just as I trust this baby is “doing its thing” as I carry on with “life–as-usual.” However, as I have been occupied with days of teaching, ministry, and a full curling schedule, there have been moments when the baby simply demands my attention and makes its presence known. A kick or flutter forces me to take notice of the miracle of life growing inside of me. Thank goodness, because what a shame it would be to miss this season. What a shame it would be if I did not attend to the growth of this little one – longed for, hoped for, and prayed for. Truly, I am being “enlarged in the waiting,” whether my attention is always focused on this baby or not.
I realize my life in Christ is often similar. Once the initial commitment to Jesus is made, we can either choose to carry on with “life-as-usual” and add church on Sunday to our schedules, OR we can truly embrace a growing relationship with the living Christ. There are times when Christ demands my attention, and there are other moments when I turn and come to Him – longing for His presence and Word to dwell. How often I need reminding of his Presence and His love!
“During the waiting times, God is vibrantly at work within us. And if through the Spirit of God we have been united with the Father in dynamic relationship, if God has sewn his gospel seed in us, then Jesus is being formed within us, little by little, day by day. But we have to wait if the Word is to become flesh in us. And that kind of waiting feels like work.” – Luci Shaw
Yes, a life following Jesus is work, as growing a baby is work. But it’s wonderful work! Whether I, Sarah Slywka, choose to pay attention or not, Christ IS coming. He has come, and is coming again. And how he longs for our attention! Christ speaks (a kick, perhaps?) in countless ways. With the miracle of a sunrise, a scripture that jumps from the pages of my Bible, an encouraging word from a friend, or a quickened heartbeat in prayer – I must take notice of the Spirit becoming flesh in me! And oh, how my heart is enlarged in the waiting when I am attentive to His presence – when I listen and allow Him to speak and be heard; when I am open to having Him enter and make His home in me – just as this baby has already made its home in me. As a pregnant woman awaits the birth of a baby, let us eagerly long for the birth of Christ. Let us lean into Advent, and have our hearts be HOME to our Saviour, baby Jesus.
Brady Toops has a beautiful song worth sharing on this theme. It can be heard HERE, and the lyrics are posted below.
Make Your Home – Brady Toops
For a heart that is a beacon
Burning bright and strong and true
In my waking and my sleeping
May I ever reach for You
For a will that is a shadow
Only moving with the light
On a road that’s straight and narrow
Keep me ever by Your side
Oh hear this humble prayer
Oh from a heart laid bare
All that I ask of Thee
Make Your home, make Your home in me
Grant me faith to move the mountain
And be cast into the sea
When I’m lost and when I’m doubting
Seal my confidence in Thee
Let my praise be like the thunder
Breaking through the darkened skies
Oh may I never lose the wonder
Of my Savior crucified