As we head toward Christmas and close out the year, I’m celebrating Advent with the 1 Minute Wiser videos and this blog. Advent focuses on 4 themes: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. Need a reason to celebrate? Read here how Jolie got her joy back.
Jolie flipped through Pinterest for dinner ideas while the girls chattered around the lunchroom table. Wifedom – she caught herself grinning and turned it into a yawn. The girls teased her about being a homebody since her February wedding, but she knew they were glad to see her happy. Tyler loved her cooking, whether she made tuna sandwiches or bacon-wrapped stuffed peppers. His appreciation inspired her. Her favorite moment each day was walking into their cozy casa after work, fluffing the couch pillows and starting dinner. She kept their new house spotless and knew her Gigi would be proud. She did everything her grandmother had done—dusting, vacuuming, laundry, plus she held a full-time job. Of course, Gigi would never have made Papi clean the kitchen, but Gigi didn’t have to act perky for customers all day.
Sorting the laundry, Jolie picked up the cycling jacket Tyler had bought her for Christmas, their second year of “wedded bliss.” She couldn’t put it down. Drawing it to her chest with both hands, she bent her head and lifted one fist to cover a smile. As she looked up, her own eyes caught her in the mirror. Knowingly, they said, “Jolie, stop.” She wiped off the smile and looked away. Loading the washer, she heard Tyler laugh at something on TV. Her thoughts hammered like moths at the globe around a porch light. She longed to sneak out the kitchen door.
She went to bed early but couldn’t sleep. At 3am, Tyler came out to the living room to find her sobbing. “Hey,” he said and reached for her. She folded her arms but let him pull her in. She held it in for a moment, but the sobs continued silently until they burst the dam in a cry that wrung his heart.
What happened in those two years?
To fight bacon-wrapped pepper pudge, Jolie had joined a Saturday morning cycling group. After the ride, everyone went to Ollie’s Oats for breakfast. For the last couple of weeks, nobody could come except Connor. Biking made Jolie feel alive, vibrant and free, and breakfast extended the feeling for another hour, so she went. When Connor invited her to lunch Monday she went. And again Wednesday. Thursday, she was first to text an invite. She needed to stop, but she didn’t really want to. She couldn’t deny where this was headed, but she couldn’t explain why it was happening. Tyler had been everything she’d wanted; he’d done nothing but love her.
Tyler is human, and therefore imperfect, but he has something in common with God. God began a relationship with humanity that included walks in the garden, shared responsibility and creative expression. When we left the garden, God gave us some rules to follow. We said, “Sacrifices—there’s something we can do to please God!” When Jolie became a wife, she said, “Dinner and housekeeping—there’s what I can do to please my husband!” In both scenarios, the sacrifices became the only way the bride related to the groom. Jolie had no more time to enjoy Tyler’s companionship, because her focus was on domestic tasks. Many of God’s people lost sight of their loving Creator and saw only duty, inadequacy and an increasing desire to relax. Both Jolie and the people of Israel found their hearts opening up to relationships other than the ones which could truly have satisfied them.
Tyler was hurt. But more than that, he was scared of losing this woman he loved so much. “Honey, let’s go somewhere this weekend. Let’s just have some fun.” They took time away and obtained counseling when they returned. Today, their house is messier, but they are partners with a friendship that inspires others.
Isaiah 59 NLT says God saw where we were and made plans to get us back into relationship with Him.
9bWe look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. 10aWe grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes.
15bThe Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice. 16He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him… “20The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins,” says the Lord.
Jesus is that Redeemer. At the beginning of his public ministry, he stood in the temple and read the prophecy from Isaiah 61:1. We can read his words in Luke 4 NLT.
“18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, 19and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come…21The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
When our relationship was replaced by things to clean and sacrifices to make, God Himself made the final sacrifice to reclaim our hearts. During Advent and the other twelve months of the year, we can celebrate joyfully and intimately with the Lover of our souls.
11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come.[e] He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever….
13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds[f] so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
God intervened so we could be joyful with our Maker once again. Here’s a song to help you celebrate.