Advent: God With Us

Philippians 3:12-16 

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. 

 “Forgetting what is behind? I consider myself something of an expert at this. I’ve always been a bit forgetful– innocuous things like song lyrics, where I left my keys, and words to colloquial phrases have evaded my grasp for years. That forgetfulness escalated last year, though, when I was in a minor car accident that brought with it a major concussion– where memories go to die. I sat in class ready to tackle yet another Hebrew vocabulary quiz– as it was placed in front of me, I was sure I had never seen any of those words before. I had, in fact, seen them all before. Uh oh.  

I said and did things I have no recollection of saying or doing, I couldn’t remember the events leading up to or immediately following the car accident, and those days still feel hazy in my memory. Thanks to a pesky head injury, I know how to forget.  

In the same semester I forgot everything I knew, I realized there was far more I still needed to forget. I left class after class feeling like the theological foundation I had built was crumbling around me, and most of the time I was right. I comforted myself with the assurance that particular part of the foundation needed to go, to be forgotten. I have unlearned maybe more than I have learned in these first years of seminary. I have bolstered some of my views and torn down others, many still under construction. (Professors, skip this next sentence). I have certainly forgotten more than I have remembered. And even after all of this, I still have a lot of forgetting to do.  

Pressing on is the more difficult task, isn’t it? I have no problem forgetting the pain I’ve come through– I’ll happily watch those memories slip by. I had a bit more trouble forgetting theological truths I’d been taught were non-negotiables, but I got there eventually. The true challenge is pressing on toward the goal– the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.  

We’ve talked a lot about calling in my classes this year. What is yours? How are you answering it? What does that look like? Calling and vocation look different for each of us. Something that unites us, though, is the heavenly call of God in Christ– for which we’re meant to press on. This is a lofty goal, a prize that feels worthy of the trials that come with pressing on. Through uncertainty, doubt, family and friends who might not understand your new theological viewpoint, sickness, car accidents, and loss… the prize is worth the pressing on.  

In this advent season, the reminder of Christ’s coming to earth helps me to press on. He, the ultimate example of pressing on toward an ultimate goal, is intimately acquainted with our struggles, our sorrow, our humanity. The person of Jesus came, God with us, to show us how to walk this life in communion with the Father, warts and all. Struggles, pain, rejection and all. Mocked, beaten, forsaken. Our suffering is in good company with long-expected Jesus. And as we press on, fighting the good fight, straining (that word feels fitting, doesn’t it?) toward what lies ahead, He is right there with us. This is something I cannot, will not forget.” 

Brianna Daly 

Brianna Daly is an alumnus of the University of Georgia (go dawgs!) with a BA in Sociology and Communication Studies. She is currently in her second year of the MDiv program at McAfee School of Theology. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, her family now resides in Acworth, GA where she loves to spend a weekend when not at her home in Sandy Springs.  

When not in class, she is the Client Care team lead at Broken Chains International, a Christian counseling organization in Kennesaw, GA. Brianna cares deeply about people and the stories they carry, and she hopes to write about those stories at the conclusion of her graduate studies.  

In her free time, Brianna loves to unwind with a good novel or poetry collection, a cup of tea, and spending time with friends and family. If she is ever missing, you can most likely find her at the nearest thrift store or perusing the aisles of a local book shop.