Third Thursday of Advent: With a Hand on My Head

By Alexandra Everhart Gearing

Advent Devotional | December 15, 2022

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

—Matthew 5:14-16 (Read Matthew 5)

It was a normal occurrence for my dad to play music as we traveled in our minivan. And while the music was playing, he would describe to me and my sisters why the song was powerful. 

A favorite I recall jamming out to was “My Deliverer” by Rich Mullins. Dad would say, “He is coming, girls! Our Deliverer is coming!” Other favorites were U2’s songs “Beautiful Day” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

And I remember a song called “Lazarus Come Forth.” Although it has a light-hearted element to it, the song builds for five minutes until the singer finally almost yells “LAZARUSSS COME FORRRRTHH!” 

Dad pumped his fist in the air at this part while I giggled.

He talked about the power of God and how Lazarus’s resurrection displays God’s power to raise us from the dead, His power to cleanse and restore our bodies in the new creation. 

Now I can’t remember if these were his exact words—I was 10 years old at the time—but I do know this was the message he was trying to convey. He shared that Jesus was providing stories of hope and reassurance for us during his time on earth. He does indeed intend to return and bring restoration, and he has the power to do it all. 

One song that seemed especially powerful to my dad, that brought tears to his eyes, was Santana’s “Put Your Lights On”:

Cause there's a monster
Living under my bed
Whispering in my ear
There's an angel
With a hand on my head
She says I've got nothing to fear

There's a darkness
Livin' deep in my soul
I still got a purpose to serve
So let your light shine

I love the image of an angel—or God—sitting on my bed, their hand on my head, reminding me that the monster under my bed is no match for God’s power—the power that can raise Lazarus from the dead. 

This image reminds me what it is like to live in the “now but not yet.” The darkness can be oh so close, but so can the light. 

Waiting in expectant hope for Christ’s return, as we are called to do during Advent, is no easy task. I vividly recall sitting in the back seat as Pennsylvania forests flew by and my dad explained how the monster represents the darkness or the temptations we face from Satan—and then reminded me that we are not alone during those times. 

The Lord called my dad home in February of 2021 at the age of 57. Recently, the monster under my bed has plagued me with doubt. 

I wonder if the idea that we truly see our loved ones again after death is just something I tell myself so I can sleep at night. I wonder if full restoration is too good to be true. I imagine many people who experience grief have similar unvoiced thoughts—thoughts they are too scared to admit in church or at a Bible study. 

And then the Lord reminds me of Dad singing in the van. He brings to mind how my dad would joyfully say, “Christ is risen!” at least 50 times every Easter morning. 

I believe now that it is far from a coincidence that Christ’s restoration power was an aspect of my dad’s faith that he emphasized so heavily with me and my family. He may not have even known why, but I believe now that God was preparing me for a long time to travel the road of waiting that I am walking today. 

It is agonizing to wait for Christ’s second coming, to see our earth stop suffering, to hug those we love again.

But I believe that  Jesus has his hand on each of our heads in different ways, helping us to shoulder our crosses and carry on.

“[We] still have a purpose to serve here on earth, so let your light shine.” 

It is through these memories of music in the van with my dad that God lays a soft hand on my head. My dad reaches back through space and time, reminding me that Jesus was preparing me for a long time to be able to wait with hope.

Jesus has and will continue to provide what I need to keep walking, to keep preparing for Christ’s second coming. 

—Alexandra Everhart Gearing works in Water Resources Management & Engineering. She was involved in CCO ministry during her undergraduate years at Penn State University and participated in the 2013 Ocean City Beach Project.