By Brooke Holt
“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.” – Psalm 25:1-3
The season of Advent calls us to be present—present to God, to ourselves, and to the people in our lives. Beyond the gift of presence, we are to be watchful, hopeful, and expectant. With a new church year comes the eager hope that God will do new things in us and around us. Our gift of presence to the Lord and to his kingdom allows us to be open and aware to these new ways that God is working.
Our Psalmist for today offers his presence to the Lord. You can almost envision him standing on a great mountaintop with eyes and arms lifted: “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (v. 1). In Hebrew, this word for soul would better translate to “I lift up my whole being.” There is no compartmentalizing when it comes to surrendering ourselves to the Lord. We can’t offer our hearts to the Lord but hold back our finances. We might be inclined to give ourselves over to worship in church on Sundays but hold back in the board meeting on Monday. There are no half-hearted Christians! We either give our whole selves—body, mind, and spirit—or we withhold our whole selves.
Which would best describe you? Maybe the better question is to whom or what do you lift up your soul (or your whole being)? Is it your work, your family, your friends, finances, or hobbies? Do they get the best of you? Or are you purposing to offer your whole self to the Lord, asking him to then lead you in the work, family, friends, finances, and hobbies? It is not that the Lord does not want you to love things in this world and people in this world; instead, he wants you to love him first. Maybe a better way to understand this is in the Sermon on the Mount: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). You have seen movies or read books of men and women in search of their treasure. It consumes them so much that they are willing to endure great hardships, risks, and obstacles to get to that treasure. Jesus wants to be your treasure, that thing that is so compelling that you pursue him with great tenacity. Certainly, there will be hardships, maybe even persecutions that come because of your relationship to him. There will be risks; it can be scary to speak the name of Jesus to one who may not yet believe or in a court or classroom. Goodness knows there are many obstacles to the faith. The world is full of them, and those obstacles often lead to distractions and detours.
Yet, when Jesus is your treasure, you will push past everything to pursue him and his kingdom. Maybe that is God’s call to you this Advent season. Set aside the time to seek him, to pursue him, to know him, and to give him your whole being. There, you will not just find your Savior, but you may also find a new self, a self that is being renewed day by day from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
Lord, we want this Advent season to be one in which we seek you wholeheartedly. Come and shine your light into our darkness. Come and lead us into your eternal truth. Come and prepare our hearts to celebrate Jesus’s first coming and instill a great hope for his second coming.
Consider making this Scripture into a daily prayer throughout Advent: “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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