November 21, 2011

Nov. 21: Awesome deeds we do not expect


By Bob Yoder, campus pastor


Welcome to Goshen College’s online devotionals for the 2011 Advent season! Our theme this year, taken from Mennonite Church USA worship resources, is “Awesome Deeds We Do Not Expect.” Every Monday a writer will introduce the sub-theme, whereas the following weekdays writers will reflect on a specific Scripture passage.

Advent 2011 bursts upon us with the impassioned cry of the prophet Isaiah: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence!” (Isa. 64:1). The prophet goes on to remember “awesome deeds that we did not expect” from the past and longs for God to show up again in such mighty ways.

Isaiah’s words reveal the heart of Advent: an in-between, paradoxical season, bordered on the one hand by memories of how God has appeared in the past and on the other hand by anticipation of God’s presence still in front of us. “Come, Lord Jesus” is a prayer that points both backward and forward: backward to the baby in the manger but also forward to the Lord of all entering our world. Yet God’s presence can’t be contained by our expectations.

One Saturday afternoon this past spring I was wallowing in a particular struggle. I lay on the couch depleted. Mira, our little daughter who had just turned three years old, was sitting in her childseat playing. Suddenly and out of nowhere, she looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay.” Surprised, I asked Mira several times, “What did you say?” Each time she repeated, “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay.”

Then I asked her again several times, “What made you say that?” She did not respond. She did not need to because in that moment I recognized the Spirit’s presence bursting into that scene in the Yoder house that Saturday afternoon. I sat there quaking and in awe, not sure if I should be scared or at peace. Little did I know that our lives would take some dramatically surprising and seemingly miraculous turns over the next few weeks. I continued to reverently quake.

God may show up in disruptive and surprising ways but also in simple, familiar ways. The theme for Advent 1 is “Restore Us.” Over the unfolding weeks, my soul was restored as I contemplated, “Out of the mouth of babes…” During this Advent season we are invited to meditate on God’s sure coming – welcoming the unexpected but also treasuring and savoring the everyday revelations of God’s coming.

O God, surprise us with your awesome deeds and restore those parts of us which are depleted.



Comments (17)

  1. What great thoughts for starting these Advent devotions

    Pastor Karen November 21, 2011 |
  2. O God help me to see and experience your awesome deeds.

    Nancy November 21, 2011 |
  3. The meditaions have become a most welcome addition to my learning and prayer life. It is good to have the comfort and assurance each day as we begin a time of anticipation and grace. Peace to all at Goshen.

    Warren Bradbury November 21, 2011 |
  4. I am new to the Goshen Advent devotionals, brought to them by another angel who has appeared in my life. What a wonderful way to start off, Warren. Give that angel in your life a hug for all of us today.

    Alice November 21, 2011 |
  5. “ex ore infantium…” Latin for you for “out of the mouth of infants…” Children can teach us to expect anything from the God of the unexpected; and its always good. Only we need a little discerning faith. Thank you, Bob, for giving me a good start for Advent.
    Mervyn Carapiet

    Mervyn Carapiet November 21, 2011 |
  6. Wow, Bob, what awesome reminder to listen to God’s voice through our children. I’ve been humbled by the many lessons I’ve been taught, not only in my parenting journey, but my physical and spiritual journey, as well.

    Tony November 21, 2011 |
  7. Your illustration with Mira certainly fits the theme of welcoming the unexpected. God is so good in sending us those revelations that continually remind us of his awesome presence and care for us.

    Ruth November 21, 2011 |
  8. A wonderful meditation! Thanks for sharing this event
    from your life.

    Loretta Yoder Ostojic November 21, 2011 |
  9. Thanks, Bob, for your inspiring message. A perfect start for this season of reflection and expectation. Peace to All.

    Melissa November 21, 2011 |
  10. Fitting, timely, beautiful, wonderful, Truth!
    thank you.

    Diana Thomas November 21, 2011 |
  11. This started my day off on a hopeful note. Thank you for your honesty and passion.

    Grace Parker November 21, 2011 |
  12. So wonderful to know that our awesome God will always find a way to let us know he is there. I just lost my beloved mother and before she went to heaven she told me that Jesus had appeared to her. This has given my family such peace knowing he is waiting for us.

    Carol November 21, 2011 |
  13. Bob, my children when they were quite young and later when they are now teenage daughters and “a wonderfully wierd” twenty something year old son and my “mostest wonderfull wife” have made the same type comments. Out of the mouths of babes???
    P. S. I just turned a younger/old 71 years of age.

    Lyle R. Page November 21, 2011 |
  14. Dear Bob. Thanks so much for an uplifting beginning to Advent! My daughter (she’s 23) also has a calming presence. What IS it with kids? Just when you think you can’t take another ANYTHING, they’ll hit you with an awesome ‘surprise’. Isn’t it great?

    Debbie Lackowitz November 21, 2011 |
  15. Thank you for sharing your insight. I believe your prayer for God to restore that which has been depleted in us rings true for many people. God Bless you and your beautiful family.

    Jannine November 23, 2011 |
  16. Great thoughts Bob. I am disappointed that the scriptures that are being used here do not match up with the scriptures being encouraged in Leader.

    Steve Heatwole November 23, 2011 |
  17. Steve. Thanks for noting that the scriptures of Advent 1 are not what Leader (Mennonite Church USA quarterly resource) recommends. My apologies about that; I’m not exactly sure what happened on our end. BUT, I did double-check the scripture passages for Advent 2 through Christmas and they do use the suggested passages found in Leader.

    Bob Yoder November 25, 2011 |