“Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” Then he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isa. 7:11-14  (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, what an outrageously generous God you are. This Scripture contrasts the beauty of your love with the ugly of our stubbornness. I praise you for your relentless commitment to bless most unworthy, unbelieving, ungrateful people, like me. Truly, Advent is the arrival of irrepressible grace.

     It was a time of local and international crisis, and King Ahaz had every opportunity to repent and rely on you. You sent Isaiah with words of wisdom and hope. But he refused. Feigning piety, King Ahaz remained addicted to his illusion of control and self-sufficiency.

     Father, as I read this story, I realize how much I’m like King Ahaz. Often I acknowledge you with my lips, but on the inside, I trust more in my Cub Scout kit of self-sufficiency. So I won’t throw any stones today at this wicked king. Rather, I grieve the illusion of control and competency.

     That’s why the promise of Immanuel is so precious to me. Father, you’ve proven yourself to be a God who is not only with me in Jesus, but a God who is so very much for me in Jesus. Your love for us in the gospel isn’t just unconditional; it’s contra-conditional, for you’ve met every condition necessary to redeem us and restore creation. Mercy without measure and grace without limit; love beyond imagining and peace surpassing understanding.

     Though I don’t have the Assyrian army outside my door threatening my existence, there are a few real challenges before me this Advent season. Father, by faith through grace, I purpose to rely on you for wisdom from above and grace for the moment. That you are with me and for me is enough. So very Amen I pray, in the trustworthy and triumphant name of Jesus