(This is part three of my Advent series The In-Between. Click for parts one and two.)

All of life is Advent. All of life is expectant, hope-filled waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

I feel the strain, the groaning, the weight of the wait; and then I hear His calling again to hurl the burdens hard on His strength and enter the place of rest for weary souls. The impossible made possible through Jesus Christ.

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Romans 8:22-26

We groan, longing for the return of the King, His final victory. But we are not without help and hope. The Holy Spirit, the down payment of our divine inheritance, intercedes for us. God with us, is God within us. We have a foretaste of what is to come and that taste sustains us while we long for the final victory. Our faith assures us of things hoped for; it is our conviction of things not seen, (Hebrews 11:1).

So what are we to do while we wait?

We hope. We believe God is working even now, in the meanwhile, and this changes how we live in a world between victories. By faith, we keep watch, we hold fast and draw near, and we set our hearts on the word of God.

1. We keep watch.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

1 Peter 5:6-9

One of the tactics of the enemy is to isolate us, causing us to feel alone in this in-between place.

Much like a lion hunting its prey, our adversary seeks out the one who is cut off from the herd to chase down and devour. You will hear the whispers that you are alone. Or, that it’s just too hard. Or no one cares.

Be on your guard! Resist the lie, and by faith, replace it with the truth! Cast all your anxieties on God, because He really, truly cares for you!

As Christ-followers, we are part of a brotherhood of believers throughout this world (the world between the victories). That means even when we feel isolated, we really aren’t. Throughout the word, and beyond what our physical eyes can see is a great cloud of witnesses who have led the way of faith before us, (Hebrews 11:1).

Keep watch, and remember, you are loved, you are cared for, and you are not alone! Christmas reminds us of Christ’s mission: He came to be Emmanuel, God with us. He came to bring you back to Him! And He is keeping you now in His steadfast love, (Jude 1). Keep watch as He is keeping you!

2. We hold fast and draw near.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:14-16

Consider this: Jesus passed through the heavens, to us. He, who knew no sin, came here to be sin on our behalf, (2 Corinthians 5:21). He loved us enough to come into our brokenness and pain, our sin, suffering, and shame. Jesus took on flesh, that we might take on His Spirit. Let that sink in for a moment. 

Ruth Chou Simons put it this way in her Advent devotional, Emmanuel: “Christmas is a reminder that there is no repair for our despair apart from our wonderful Savior, Jesus, the Messiah. We won’t know the sweetness of a Savior if we don’t realize how much we need rescuing.” We cannot truly celebrate our Savior without first confessing how far our sin has separated us from Him and how we can do nothing to bridge the gap. Hold fast to our confession, because it is our only hope! The God of Hope came to cross the divide between us and truly be God with us!

We have a High Priest

And if that wasn’t enough, we also have a High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet is without sin.

Sympathize means, “to be affected with the same feeling as another, to sympathize with.”

We travel the in-between place with confidence, knowing our Savior has not only come to be with us, but He understands us! He feels what we feel!

Breathe a sigh of relief in this world between victories. Draw near, better yet, run to Him, knowing He feels what you feel (yet without sin)! He knows you deeply, intimately, and completely. He is well aware of the words you’re going to say before you even think them. Our Creator knows how intricately you are woven together, because He is the one who formed you (Psalm 139:1-4, 15-16). Hold fast and draw near to His throne of grace, knowing with 100% certainty that He will meet you with abundant mercy and extravagant grace for your every need. Our High Priest of hope has come!

3. We set our hearts on the Word.

“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:111-112‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What a gift the Word of God is! Eugene Peterson puts it this way: “I’ve inherited Your book on living; it’s mine forever…” Psalm 119:112 MSG

Just as the Holy Spirit is a down payment into the believer’s heart of our forever inheritance, the holy word is another foretaste of our divine forever future. If this is but a sampling, an appetizer before we go onto the main meal, I cannot even fathom what joy and glory await us!

Open His word. Taste it. Consume it. Let the holy scriptures stir your heart for more. Set your heart to enjoying it again and again. What may begin as only a discipline — commit to reading it day by day —will form into a habit which will grow into a deep hunger for more. How else will we come to know the Word made flesh that very first Christmas than by being immersed in His word?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope,” (Romans 15:4).

Do you need hope? Right now, stop your scroll and go to the holy scroll. Talk to God. Pray, “Open my eyes to behold wonderful things from Your Word,” and then “eat.” Let the word nourish your heart for the day ahead. Let it become the manna that sustains you through a long wilderness road as you walk the world between the victories.

Not sure where to start? Open to Psalm 1 or John 1, and let the feast begin.

And then come back here for part four of this Advent series, Embracing Peace as We Live in a World Between Victories.

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