Assessing Our Lives

Advent begins a new year in the church calendar. I’m not generally a fan of New Years’ resolutions, but I do believe that regularly stepping back to assess our lives, and commit (or re-commit, in many cases) to put ourselves on a certain trajectory, is helpful. In the church year, both Advent and Lent give us an opportunity to do this.

One of the challenges of Advent in our culture is the constant activity of the season. Time and space for reflection is limited for many of us. However, like most things, if we make time for reflection a priority, it is likely that we can carve out an hour or two at some point in the next week or two to ask the basic question, “What is life about?” and the important follow-up question, “How does my life reflect this?”

As Christians, we believe that life, ultimately, is about God—knowing God, loving God, and serving God. As we give ourselves to this end, we find that God desires that we engage with him in the specific community of the church, that we need one another as we engage with him.

The rhythms, then, of weekly worship, daily prayer and study, and intentional practices of generosity and service, in the context of relationships of love and trust, form the foundation of our pursuit of God (which is, more properly, understood as our response to God’s pursuit of us). Our relationships, our work, our rest and our play all become charged with transcendent meaning, allowing us to experience God’s grace in and through them.

So often though (at least in my life), our daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms are such that we’re not aware of God and God’s work in and through us. We get distracted by so many things and begin to listen to the voices that surround us each day, inciting us to anger, to greed, to thoughtless consumption. Taking a step back, then, and asking God for help in ordering our lives toward the end of knowing, loving and serving him becomes an essential practice for us in seeking for our lives to reflect God’s ultimate purpose.

My hope is that each of us might take that step back this Advent (which will likely mean saying no to things, even otherwise good things!) and ask the question, “What is life about?” In the silence, I believe that God will, in one way or another, lead us to Jesus—his life, death, and resurrection. Just as Linus’ answer to Charlie Brown’s impassioned plea, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!?” was the story of Jesus, so, too, will God’s answer be to us, graciously inviting us to follow him. Will we take time, and give space, to ask the question, and to listen for the answer?