With

Jesus. Only Jesus. He matters infinitely more than anything else. Go with Him. Be with Him. Just be. With.

Tonight the word I want to focus on is with.

It’s a relational word. Feel it, taste it, try it out. What images does it conjure up in your mind? For me, this highly relational word invokes memories of holding hands for group prayers in Mexico, a pasta dinner with Pastor Kenny’s family where we held hands for the prayer, sitting in plastic chairs between Pastors Brad and Chuck as we prayed in Myanmar, gathering in Pastor Kaleb’s softly lit office sharing stories and praying together, and praying in triangles and small groups at Passion. This word picture also fills my mind with solitary walks along the lake-praying, phone conversations with a dear friend-praying, and late night journaling-praying. And prayers from my pastors and counselor for me.

Is it any coincidence that the word with is so closely connected to praying and people? Praying is relational, real, deep, intentional, and personal. It is words, tears, sighs, sobs, broken hearts, sorrow, joy, pain, gutsy, eloquent, choppy, silent, screaming, red eyes, smiles, worship, hands raised, face-down, listening. It is the conversation between a finite, fragile human being and the infinitely worthy King of kings. It is a relationship.

With. This word has the sweetness of my favorite Kwik Trip hot chocolate with marshmallows, the softness of the cocoa-colored blanket from Kristy, and the preciousness of being hugged by the people dearest to me. It is playing cards in a hot airport, having devotions in a hotel in Asia, heart conversations on a boat with my pastor/second dad, a huddle before a rainy volleyball game, serving ice cream to the sweetest kids in the world, working Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with an awesome team, and planting a church with another amazing team. It is watching a cheesy Christmas movie with my family, decorating cookies with my sister, and facing fears and heartache with another sister. It’s doing life with someone.

This word is tender, gentle, and tangible. It is all about being together with people we love and care about. And it is absolutely about Jesus. This small but enormous word is found in one of His names: Immanuel: God with us.

He is God, yet, He is with us. He came to earth to be with us. To live life with us. And though, we don’t get to walk the desert roads with Him, gather around a fire on the beach with Him, sit at His feet to be near Him, or have face-to-face conversations with Him, He is still with us. He is far nearer than any of the people mentioned in my images of this word. As I write this, not a one of them is anywhere near me. They are wrapped up in beautiful memories in my head and heart, and in the photographs scattered around my apartment. They are not here.

But Jesus is. He is nearer than breathing, closer than skin, and far more present and living than anyone alive today. He is with us. Think about it…the risen and reigning King is here, with us!

So, go deep in this relationship with Him. Pour out your heart to Him. Feel Him. Listen to Him. Just be with Him.

With.

Advent

Thanksgiving and Christmas—two special holidays that bracket a beautiful, meaningful season: Advent. I absolutely love Easter as it holds such significance for me as being the holiday that I really met Jesus for the very first time. But, an equally treasured time of the year is Advent.

In a world that won’t stop talking and moving, Advent gives one space to breathe, think, wait, hope, and remember. All of us are waiting for something, but this season gives us a chance to re-wait for something that will end perfectly-every, single year. Jesus came over 2000 years ago, and He still comes all these years later. We get to feel the anticipation that the people back then felt, only we know the ending. We know that Jesus came as Messiah, Savior, Lamb of God, Immanuel; but we also know that He will one day come again as the ruling and reigning King. We wait for His second coming with hope, eager longing, restlessness, and joy. We wait for the return of the King.

There is nothing quite like waiting for the celebration of the Everlasting God’s birthday. To think, the One with no beginning has a birthday—amazing. So, in the middle of the holiday crazies, take time to stop and wait for the advent of our glorious Savior. Advent is a thin space, where the presence of God is far more tangible and He feels nearer and dearer. Feel it. Feel Him in your heart. Treasure Him, love Him, worship Him, hope in Him.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:5).