Advent, Day 4
““Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.”
I've been meditating on today's passage for a few hours now and something has clicked in my heart as I have pondered on it.
A number of years ago God broke me of my legalism about all sorts of things. But, then God needed to break of my legalism about not being legalistic. That was a fun (yeah let's call it that) journey.
What got my mind spinning was the connection between carousing, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life. I can see how carousing and drunkenness aren't good things and are choices that I make. But, the “anxieties of life?” I felt like I was in a segment from Sesame Street's “one of these things is not like the other.” How could Jesus compare the first two to the third?
Well, it finally clicked when my mind was able to connect Jesus' prescription for the problems he listed. Namely, “watch and pray.”
Carousing is defined as, “the activity of drinking alcohol and enjoying oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.” Drunkenness is drinking alcohol to excess. Anxiety is, “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”
Jesus prescribes us to watch and pray otherwise our hearts are weighed down by these things.
Enjoying time with friends and enjoying alcohol are not bad in and of themselves. It's when we take them to a place of excess that they become problematic. Planning for the future and counting the costs for tomorrow aren't bad things until they are taken to a place of excess.
Alcohol has not been an issue for me in my life. My drug of choice is food. Food is where I find control and seek emotional solace.
If Jesus were specifically speaking to me he would say that I need to be careful otherwise my heart will get weighed down with gluttony and the anxieties of life.
In this season of Advent we are in this time of waiting that begins in the darkness. When the world is dark we begin to feel out of control. So, we start grabbing for anything that makes us feel like we have control again. Food, drink, anxiety. If we are not careful these things will weigh our hearts down. We will find ourselves in a very real sense, out of our minds.
So, we watch and pray.
Isn't it interesting, there's not a single mention here of reading the Scriptures or meditating on God's word. No, the call is to watch and pray. That is, we are to seek to enter into the presence of the Divine through prayer.
I think Jesus calls us to this because if we can acknowledge that we are not God and if we can acknowledge that we can trust God to be in control, then we will find freedom from the anxieties of this life. We can enjoy a good meal without becoming gluttonous. We can enjoy a good party with friends without it becoming carousing.
When we have found peace, that wholeness of self and rest in God, then we will find freedom.
This is the hope of Advent.
It is a hope of freedom to joy rooted in the God that cares for all things.
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