A few months ago, I began to have seizures…again. I was diagnosed with epilepsy about eight years ago and, until recently, the seizures seemed to be under control. Currently, I am on restricted driving until I go six months without having an episode. So, I’ve been taking Uber and Lyft. While inconvenient, the experience has become an incredible opportunity to journey alongside people—to be with them in their darkness.
Interestingly, drivers have often shared their darkest, most fearful moments: diagnosis of cancer, the murder of a brother, previous addiction, infidelity, abuse, loss of a job, and other hurts, pains, and suffering. The list of hopeless, dark, and gloomy circumstances can be very disheartening and overwhelming. Sadly, many don’t seem to see any hope of light entering their darkness.
Knowing that people experience so much darkness, while I also possess the light of hope, I’ve found myself asking questions
The prophet Isaiah had similar experiences. In Isaiah [8:16]-9:1 he describes that King Ahaz, out of fear and lack of trust, disobeyed God. God turned his face away from the king and his people, thus, leaving them in the dark. Isaiah put his faith and hope in theOne he could not see and the promise of the Light to come in the darkness; whereas, the fearful, fallen Israelites turned to things of the world (idols) to give them security, peace, and hope. Eventually, they would fall into a deeper, pain-filled, anguishing, hopeless darkness.
However, after waiting and watching, waiting and watching, waiting and watching over hundreds of years…suddenly there appeared a light, a glorious light of hope that would shine in the darkness–Jesus. (Isaiah 9:1, Matthew4: 13-16)
Again, for those of us who have Hope…what do we do? Who are we to be? What direction does celebrating Advent provide as we look toward the hope of the light of a new day?
Peter exhorts and encourages us
11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.2 Peter [3:11]-13
Looking for and hastening? Waiting and watching and doing? Or, as Fleming writes: action in waiting.
As I began celebrating Advent, preparing this devotional, and thinking about several of my drivers, it dawned on me that, perhaps, riding with Uber and Lyft
Maybe loving well means speaking an encouraging word, saying a prayer, proclaiming the Good News, listening, or simply being silent. I’ve begun meeting with one of my Uber drivers on a weekly basis to walk with her through the darkness. Perhaps, that is what Advent isabout—waiting, watching, trusting, hoping, loving and shining a small light of Hope until He comes.
What a wonderful privilege you and I have! By God’s grace, we have opportunities to look for and hasten… act while waiting… love while hoping and bringing Hope! Whereas God turned his face from the Israelites and left them in the darkness, we have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus (2 Cor. 4:6). We have wonderful opportunities to allow the light of Hope to shine in a dark world through us—broken, earthen vessels.
Lastly, as we live in the “now, but not yet”…the tension of “action in waiting”…loving and hoping and bringing Hope…please let me encourage you with a scripture that Mrs. Fleming included ina prayer that she sent me as I was wrestling with my discouragement of having seizures again: “ I am sure that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6)
Jesse Stalnaker is husband to his beautiful wife, Joan, and is Daddy to Grace and Gunnar. He serves on staff as the Family and Community Pastor at a Baptist church in Chesapeake, Va. Jesse holds Master of Arts degrees in both Education and Marriage and Family Therapy.