Preparing Our Hearts for the Coming King
Advent 1, 2021 (November 28, 2021)
John the Baptist said, “Prepare the way of the Lord… Make His paths straight…”
The theme of advent is to prepare—to use all of our powers to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of the Christ Child… Yet the last two years have made it hard to prepare… Sometimes almost impossible… And yet, the faith tells us that there is always a way forward. Sometimes finding that way is difficult.
Remember, the birth of the Christ-Child was filled with trial and pain. Joseph and Mary received gracious gifts from the Magi—Wise men… And yet they had to flee for their lives as soon as the gifts were in hand. An angel warned the holy family to leave the country and flee to some place of refuge…
Imagine what it must have been like for them—a newborn, and three foreigners, falling down before their child, telling them that they were led by a mystic star, and that this child of theirs would be a king. They would have told the holy family that they were warned to never return to the awful king they had just met… Then Joseph was awakened from a horrible sleep with a vision of an angel warning him to flee the country…
So, how could they prepare?
How can we—when businesses have gone broke, and through the pandemic, friends and relatives have become ill, and we are facing new uncertainties? Some won’t have a job tomorrow. So how do we prepare?
Let me tell you of the attitude we need-and it was modelled by someone who lived 150 years ago—a famous fellow by the name of Moody—D.L. Moody. That attitude was born when an unknown friend of his said to some words to another unknown. Here is the quote:
“The world has yet to see what God will do with, and for, and through and in, and by, the man who is wholly consecrated to Him.” Henry Varley.
D.L. Moody, at that time, an unknown shoe-salesman with no training, well he heard that statement in Dublin, Ireland at a late-night prayer meeting. And that statement changed his life forever. It altered the way he thought about himself, others, his possessions, his gifts, his time, his talents, everything altogether. You see, up to that time, Moody was quite convinced that he was a nobody, one who would never amount to much, especially in God’s service. He had a rough start in life. Anyone who met the fellow would have agreed that this was a man who knew that his “avail-ability” far and away outweighed his “ability.”
You see, when Moody was a little boy, his father died. His family was so poor that the creditors came and tool everything, including the firewood to keep them warm. The family was so poor that his mother would require the kids to carry their socks and shoes to church. There they could put them on just so that they wouldn’t wear out too soon.
As it turned out, when Moody grew up, he started a shoe store, and it was in the back of that shop that he began with God. His Sunday School teacher, a certain Mr. Kimball, had been praying for each child in his classes over the years, and felt to seek each one out to challenge them to give their lives to the Saviour. Among many others, he sought out Moody to make sure he understood that Christ had died for his sins and had risen again for him. So, in the back of the shoe store, Kimball told Moody of his need of the Saviour, Moody said “yes” to Christ, and began attending the Baptist church. He showed interest in membership. So, he attended classes for a year, stood before the membership committee, and promptly flunked his church membership exam—something extremely hard to do. You see, they had asked him,
“Tell us now, what has Christ done for you?”
Moody thought for a moment, and answered, “I know he’s done a lot for me, but I cannot think of one thing.”
So he went back for yet another year of instruction and flunked again. But because his attitude was so very positive, and because he had such a lovely spirit about him, they let him join anyway. That was how he got to church.
Moody was so very delighted at being accepted that he started inviting friends to church. He decided to bring children, street kids. Well, the little church didn’t want those kids, so he went on to found an outreach and that outreach subsequently became a church—what eventually became the largest church on earth at the time—the Moody Bible church.
Remember the prayer meeting in Dublin, Ireland? Moody heard these words by Henry Varley:
“The World has yet to see what God will do with and for and through, and in, and by, the man who is fully consecrated to him.”
Here was Moody’s response:
“Moody’s heart was warmed and he said, ‘A man.’ He didn’t say, ‘A great man.’ He didn’t say, ‘A learned man.’ He didn’t’ say, ‘A smart man.’ He simply said ‘a man.’ And I am a man. There lies within me if I really will and if I really consecrate myself, to be that man. I will try my utmost to be that person…”
And he did. It is estimated that 100 million people heard the gospel message through D. L. Moody. Without question, that layman, who never became ordained, touched more lives in the 1800s, brought more people to Christ, than any other person—all because a Sunday School teacher prayed over a list and obeyed, all because that man decided to follow through with the decision to be the consecrated man of which Henry Varley spoke.
You need to know that this was no simple process. The first time that Moody spoke in public two deacons from the church went with him. When he was done, both of them walked up to him. The first one said, “I hope you never do that again!” The second one said, “You made too many mistakes in your grammar.”
Moody’s reply was as follows. He said, “I know I made many mistakes and I know I lack certain things, but I’ doing the very best I can with what I’ve got.” He then quietly looked at the deacon and searchingly inquired, ‘Look here friend, you’ve got grammar enough. What are you doing for the Master? Whatcha gonna do with watcha got?”
Moody had no money. He had little in the way of schooling. He had lousy grammar. He even flunked church membership. He just had himself, open and available to be used of the Master. Not ability. Just availability.
Now notice, the phrase is “Watcha gonna do with watch got?” not, “Watcha gonna do with watcha had?” nor “Watcha gonna do with watcha wish you had on hand!”
The phrase is;
“Watcha’ gonna’ do with watcha’ got!”
And God said the same to the holy family—pursued by King Herod’s army to kill a child, fleeing the country for a foreign land to wait out the lifespan of that slimy king. The Holy family prepared for the first Christmas by using whatever they had on hand, to do whatever it took.
Surely, even in times of pandemic trouble, we can do as Moody did—and celebrate the birth of Christ the coming king. Let me ask you, are you preparing for the appearing of Christ the King?
“Watcha’ gonna’ do with watcha’ got!”
© David Chotka 2021