Does it feel like Christmas to you? Go ahead, and honestly answer that. I will. I am struggling with the balance of what I want, and what I can’t have. You can read more about what I will be missing most this week, on my Candidly Christian post from last week, but I want talk about this week.
And let me tell you where I have been falling really short. It has been when something bad happens, and I forget that God is still God. He is still faithful. It has been when I decide when I want to carry Jesus with me. It is when I decide what parts of my life I want Him in, and when I decide that the thrill of the Christmas season (or lack there of), is more important than the lasting joy only He can bring. The joy that He brought. It has been when I am more focused on my circumstance, and not standing firm in the fact that He is faithful.
It is when I am consumed with how to make this Christmas meaningful, instead of celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. The first Christmas.
Because Christmas came over 2000 years ago. And over 2000 years ago, Mary and Elizabeth didn’t decide that their circumstances were going to take away their joy. They decided that their joy wasn’t going to be taken away by circumstance, or hardship.
And circumstances occurred that could have stolen their joy. You know, like when Joseph planned to quietly divorce Mary, because… well… she was carrying Jesus. Elizabeth was really old when God finally allowed her to carry a child, and her husband couldn’t talk.
To many of us that would be a recipe to become Ebenezer Scrooge. Lucky for us he isn’t in the Bible. But Mary is, and Mary carried Jesus in her belly for 9 months. He was always with her. And she didn’t stop treasuring the moments in her heart when He arrived either. That continued.
But there are a lot of other unpleasant circumstances around Jesus’ birth. Let me just point out just one more. When He was born, He was placed in a manger. Which is defined as a “rack for fodder”. In other words, something used to hold animal food.
Is Your Reality Less Than Ideal?
Our reality may not seem that ideal right now. And it may seem like your reality is stealing your joy.
And I get it. Because my ideal Christmas season didn’t include being out of my rat-infested house for almost 3 weeks, right after putting up our Christmas tree. The Christmas tree that we always enjoy during the weeks leading up to Christmas.
My ideal Christmas season didn’t include not getting together with my dad’s family on Christmas eve like we have all 38 years of my life. Or coming home after being in a hotel (and trust me the hotel was a gift) to find a stack of Christmas cards from all the people we usually get together with during Christmas and a well-watered Christmas tree that was dead.
It didn’t include my husband’s grandfather about to pass away from cancer a few days before Christmas. Or his aunt FaceTiming me while I was sledding with my children, so that I could say goodbye to him, share a final scripture, and pray over him. I was happy to do it, because I will tell you that crying while my children were sledding while praying over someone you have become very fond of when I was supposed to be laughing, was a difficult gift. I didn’t have to do it, but I got to do it. It was a privilege and a blessing.
Are you viewing your reality as a gift… an opportunity? A blessing? A responsibility?
Choosing Christ is a Gift.
But let me tell you what else was going on leading up to the birth of Jesus. The time of history that we celebrate this time, every year.
Angels came to share the good news of the promised King’s anticipated arrival. He came to those who society probably wouldn’t choose as worthy to receive the honorable message. The angel came to Mary and Joseph. The angel came to Zechariah. He came to shepherds in the field that they were caring for their sheep. Shepherds were considered unclean and untrustworthy. Their testimony wouldn’t hold up in court.
But What Did The Angel Say?
He came to the least of these, and the message was this:
Don’t be afraid. No matter what is going on around you. Even if everything seems impossible. There is good news. The Son of God is coming. The Son of God has been born. Nothing is impossible with God.
They got to be a part of this beautiful story that we carry with us today. They. The least of these. The ones who would never consider themselves worthy of such a blessing. But the ones who embraced what God had given them.
Right now, we have the chance to embrace what we have. We have Jesus.
He came to us. He never leaves us. And we get to experience the joy that comes from His presence. Let me say that again. We get to. It is a gift, it is an honor, a responsibility, and an opportunity. And we get to choose to carry it with us every single moment of every single day.
I never want to forget this.
We don’t have to. We get to.
Joy. It is a privilege for those on whom His favor rests. And His favor is on those who believe in the One who was sent to us because of His Father’s love for us.
Let us do what Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and the shepherds did long ago. Let’s embrace what God has allowed. Let’s choose to carry His joy, no matter what is going on all around us. No, it is not ideal, but let’s not miss the God-given gift, and opportunity He has given us. The gift that holds great joy.
The gift of a baby laid in a manger.