Engagement. It’s a word that has a variety of meanings, each a bit different from the others, but all somehow related. Synonyms for the word alone are as varied as charter, combat, enchant, immerse and launch. So what is engagement?
Perhaps the most common definition or connotation comes from the sixth reference listed at dictionary.com. “To betroth.” We talk about a couple becoming engaged. When first we met Mary and Joseph in the Bible, they were engaged to one another, pledged to be married. Betrothed. It was easy enough to understand.
The word recently captured my attention when it was used by a third grade student, who eagerly told me of the activities of his weekend. He shared the news about his cousin, with whom the family had spent time that weekend at a family event, and he informed me of precisely how this cousin’s boyfriend had gotten down on his knee to ask her a question. Max never mentioned the question, but he didn’t need to. He breathlessly told me that the young man had ‘engaged’ his girlfriend. It was all I needed to know.
It really got me to thinking. We are all engaged by so many different people, events and circumstances in our lives. And God engages each one of us, in return.
He reaches out to each of us and finds the way to show Himself to us–to engage us with Him. And not just once or twice or now and again. Constantly. Repeatedly. Despite our best efforts to push Him aside. He comes back and engages us all over again. Again and again. It’s a source of wonder and enchantment for all of us.
So what were the first five definitions of the word?
- to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons): He engaged her in conversation. How does God engage each of us? Is it a whisper in our silent moments, or does it come in a more grandiose way? Sometimes we need to be hit in the face with it. What methods does God use to engage us?
- to secure for aid, employment, use, etc; hire: to engage a worker. God engaged each of us to be in this place and time, and while we are unaware of His plans for us and our future, we can be comforted in the knowledge that He will continue to engage us, to His will, for our good.
- to attract and hold fast: the novel engaged her attention and interest. What are the things that engage each of us in our lives? Do those things draw us closer to our Lord or pull us further from Him?
- to attract or please: His good nature engages everyone. We can see our own faults, failures and shortcomings. But what a blessing to know that the Lord is engaged by US. He is attracted to us, pleased by us. He reaches out to us, even as unworthy as we are.
- to bind, as by pledge, promise, contract, or oath; make liable: He engaged himself to repay his debt within a month. Do we engage ourselves to our devotion to the Lord? Do we pledge and promise to be as single-minded to Him as He is to us?
As we continue to step forward in our Advent journey, let us be reminded that Jesus engaged himself mightily for us and to us, never wavering, never pulling back. Unlike his earthly father, Joseph, he never made plans to break his engagement. But like Joseph, he experienced moments of shaken faith and concern for what the future would hold. In the Garden, he prayed for the burden of that knowledge upon Him, knowing what was to come. But he never broke the pledge to be our Savior. May our own faith be strengthened, even in time of testing. And may our engagement with the Lord and with Jesus, His son, our Savior, be complete.