Years ago, I purchased a book I thought dealt with losing loved ones. Upon receiving the book, I noticed that I had not paid close enough attention to the subtitle. Inside, I read of a woman who had a tumultuous relationship with her mother, of whom the author said was manipulative, playing one child against the other, a routine that caused much hurt and damage. The author contends that her life really began after her mother’s death. Not until then was she free from despair and heartbreak.
Damaged children do grow up and often damage others. Yet even offspring of loving parents sometimes end up as the proverbial apples that are far from their parental tree. But you’ve likely seen adults who have had difficult parents who decided in their late teens that they are going to be different with their own children. And of course, there are problems with their children also—so often because the parents have overcompensated, as in spoiling their children to offset their parents’ stinginess, or they will be permissive or overly strict as a reaction to their own upbringing.
But beyond automatic transmissions, loose boards, and dull pencil tips, we humans cannot fix much. Someone may point to how we, individually, have been damaged. Sometimes, although rarer, we discover how we have damaged others. The latter is so much rarer because we are blinded to our own sins although we’re experts at others’ sins.
Enter Advent, the four-week season of repentance (regret of our sins) in the light of God’s plan of salvation—He actually became Flesh to exchange His righteous for our unrighteousness. That void, that hole that is in every human heart is the result of our physical separation from God—that connection that our original human parents lost after falling for the serpent’s temptation: “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
The lie was not “knowing good and evil”. The lie was “you will be like God.” Our attempts to compensate for or fix the sins of others or our own fail because our hearts are not in the right place. There is often a self-righteous motive behind attempts to become better parents than our own. God doesn’t fix us by ridding us of our sin nature, at least not yet, but He has reconnected your life to your ultimate Creator. The Holy Spirit leads us to confess and to repent of our sins. We cannot even know God unless He draws us to Him (John 6:44).
Every Advent, we read of the birth and ministry of John the Baptist, the last prophet of the Holy Bible whose mission it was to prepare the coming of the Lord. John called his hearers to repent, just as our Lord has. Advent points to the proper relationship with our heavenly Father by the works of the Son. The marvel of Christmas is God finding us in our hiding places, in our sinful flesh which He substituted with His before our heavenly Father. The only compensation for sins is His cross and that mission began at His birth. Your baptism, believer, in Him connects your flesh to His. What you see in that nativity scene is the beginning of your redemption. You are saved. Be at peace. Gloria Deo—Glory to God