Advent, the Season of Preparation, is already underway. It’s a time to look forward, joyfully anticipating and patiently preparing for new life. Depending on which tradition one follows, this first week of Advent focuses on hope or faith. While these concepts can be mutually exclusive, they operate mostly powerfully when they’re aligned, especially as part of our prayer practice. In our most powerful prayers, usually the prayers of release and surrender – when we lay it all down before God – hope and faith unite to guide us in following God’s divine ways.
This kind of prayer, prayed by Jesus the Christ and all other spiritual masters, wipes our slates clean, activates grace and allows us to travel journeys we barely imagined possible. When we faithfully surrender in prayer, we align ourselves with God. And we remember: We aren’t praying to change God. We’re praying to change ourselves and our outlook by expanding our vision and re-activating all the faith already within us.
As we trust in God’s way, hope and faith work together. Even when we’re not sure where our path is leading, hope and faith help us take our seat on the bus of life and let God do the “driving.” Hope gets us dressed, out the door and onto the bus. Faith guides our steps and carries us into the meeting, appointment, interview, new town, new job, and/or fresh encounter. Faith gets us moving again and again, even when we don’t initially see results we like or expect. Hope says: “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can get there now that I’m on the bus.” Faith says: “Of course, you can. Keep your vision elevated and focus on God’s path, the best path to travel.”
This is the easiest way to travel life’s journeys. For, as many of us have learned, when we give God directions and try to force the process, we usually end up feeling hopeless, discouraged and/or upset that we didn’t get what we wanted. We believe that our prayers weren’t answered. Except they were. We just didn’t like the answer.
Martha Smock, a former editor of Daily Word magazine said, “Faith is the spiritual side of hope.” Her wisdom reminds us: Being hopeful isn’t enough because hope alone sees only the outer appearance and believes it’s the reality. Yet, when aligned with faith, hope develops substance, which helps us trust in realities we don’t yet see.
As we faithfully travel God’s path on the journey of life, we begin to feel the transformation. As we pray, we feel more comfortable taking our hands off the universal steering wheel. As we become still and silent, we feel the Presence of God, here, working through us and others we encounter, now. So, faithfully, we embrace the Season of Advent, trusting that peace, love and ultimately joy, are here for us, on every journey we travel.
© 2015 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.