This morning I sat in my chair facing the harbor and read several “our family year in review” Christmas letters sent by various friends from far and wide. I love getting these! I appreciate them not only for the ability to catch up on the year’s events, but also for the effort and time they represent. As a writer, I understand the focus that is required write these one-page summaries of the year gone by. I imagine my friends sitting at their computers with fingers hovering over keys, deciding which events to include. I can hear them calling to their spouses, “honey, what month did we go to Chattanooga?” as they reflect and reconstruct a full year’s worth of life. Births, deaths, knee replacements, trips, weddings, etc. are all condensed into a single page of family news.

I think we don’t do that enough. We get so focused on what we have to do just to get through the day and the week ahead, trying to parcel out segments of time to achieve it all, that we don’t allow ourselves the necessary activity of reflection. That is to our detriment, as reflection is a great teacher of truth.

Recently an old and dear friend asked me a question about my personal life that I had alluded to in a devotional. I found myself reflecting on how the situation evolved as I was answering his query. It was interesting for me to read my responses to him. By having the opportunity to reflect on the situation from the vantage point of today, I could see how God was with me at every step as it unfolded. The end result was acceptance and peace, but I confess that it didn’t come easily. But it did come as a result of years’ worth of prayer … not just mine, but others who prayed for me. I am grateful for his interest and grateful for the chance to revisit those emotions and disappointments and remember again how God brought me to the peace I know today.

Advent is a time for reflection. It is a time to claim God’s promises revealed through the prophets and manifested through the Christ child. It is a time to recall why we needed a Savior in the first place. It is a time to tally up the year’s events and activities and consider if we have been spending our days wisely or frivolously.

It is a time to remember.

In this ninth chapter of Isaiah, the prophet does exactly that. He remembers and then he looks ahead … not just to the present reality but to the future hope. In this passage, Isaiah recalls the darkness of the people of Israel in the present time as they were living under Assyrian oppression. He reflects on God’s amazing power in the past when Gideon defeated his oppressors at Midian. He predicts the time when all oppressors’ boots and blood-stained garments will be burned in a victory pyre:

Isaiah 9 (New International Version)

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.

Having thus reflected on the years behind, he looks toward the advent of the long-awaited Messiah and rejoices in the justice, righteousness, and peace that the child will bring.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

As we let these words sink in today during this final week of Advent, we would do well to turn off our phones, close the laptop for a moment and REFLECT. How was your year? Have you spent your time well this last 12 months? Where did you see and encounter God? How do you want the next 12 months to go?

In the end, what God desires for us is to find peace. When we gather to celebrate the Second Coming, this is what we will finally experience as a world. The Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father will come to reign as the Prince of Peace.

May peace be yours today as you reflect, remember, and rejoice. Oh, come, oh come Emmanuel!

Reflections of Light by Michelle Robertson

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