My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare” (Psalm 25:15).
He was furry. He was frightened. And he was trapped.
He had tried desperately to free himself. The flecks of blood on the snow showed the struggle. The harder he pulled to escape the iron teeth, the more they bit into his bone. Exhausted, he lay panting—until he heard the sound of the man approaching. Once again he lunged to be free. Once again, it was useless. Terrified, all he could do was fix his eyes on the frightening figure that was approaching.
He was no danger to the human. He was no lynx, not even a rabbit. He was a puppy.
If we can see that picture in our mind’s eye, we can understand Advent.
The human race is trapped. It spends much of its existence in pain. Life begins with a cry and ends with a moan. In between there may be moments of joy, but the happiness fades quickly, and anguished moments return with fears.
The greatest fear is that the one who set the trap will come to end any hope of escape.
Advent means, “He’s coming!” His first coming was long ago. He was cute lying in the manger. No threat there! We can decorate the day of his birth with ribbon and tinsel.
But, the message of Advent signals that he is coming again. This time, his arrival can mean death.
Try as we may, we cannot escape his reach. One of our ancestors wrote: “Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (Psalm 139:7,8).
What that puppy did not know was that the one now approaching was not the one who had set the trap. This one’s heart was pained at what he saw. This one had come to set him free, dress his wounds, and tenderly take him home.
Most humans do not recognize the Coming One as their Rescuer. They fear him because they know they cannot escape his hand. They see him as the Enemy. It is a vision of their own making. They are the ones who have gone on the attack against him. They had boasted of their freedom and gloried in their violence against him and his kingdom. They had stepped into the trap set by Satan.
When the Lord of life or death comes into their line of vision, be it on a deathbed or in those future clouds of glory, their eyes will be fixed on him in terror.
Not so those who recognize him as Lord and Savior, and Friend. Not so for those who call out for him to come to help. Not so for those who love and trust him.
Advent means “He’s coming!”
That’s good news for those who know they are trapped in a world of pain and disappointment, and only he can set them free.
That’s good news for us. Let our prayer be, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Jesus, at times we are like that puppy who does not recognize the footsteps of the one who cares, and is coming to set him free. Call out to us then, with your gentle voice. Let the words of the Prophet Isaiah resonate in our hearts as we hear, “Comfort, comfort, my people, says your God.” Let fear turn to joy. Enable us to celebrate Advent.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military