Sunday, December 23, 2018

Not insignificant

This morning, on December 23, we celebrated Christmas because I work a 24-hour shift on Christmas Eve, and my husband works in the ER on Christmas Day. Santa delivered our packages last night, and we appreciate his accommodation of our busy schedules! Up until today, our days of December have been filled with Christmas activities. We’ve shopped, wrapped gifts, baked cookies, tried new Christmas recipes, sent out Christmas cards, gone to see “A Christmas Carol” at Actors Theater in Louisville, mailed gifts, and tried to remember many people this season. As much as I have enjoyed it, it has also been a little exhausting. 

After waking up at seven this morning to open gifts, make breakfast cinnamon rolls, and start the pot roast in the Dutch oven, I watched several Christmas movies—and then took a nap. This afternoon, while my husband was assembling my daughter’s doll house, I took a few moments to sit by the tree, sip coffee and read my Bible devotionals from the YouVersion Bible app.

One of these devotionals was geared toward the Christmas season. I like it because it helps to remind me what Christmas is really about. Despite the hustle and bustle of the season, I’ve tried to keep my focus on the birth of our Lord. I’ve tried to wrap my mind around how much God loves us—that He would send Jesus into this world to show us His love, to show us how to love, and to save us. My devotional today focused on the fact that Bethlehem was crowded with probably more than a million people arriving to town for the census. I imagined trying to go to another town today, for something similar, and not being able to find a single hotel room. I suppose the worst case scenario for me might be that I would have to sleep in my car for the night. 

I think about Mary, in her pregnant state, being transported by a donkey for miles and miles, and going into labor. Joseph had to find shelter for her; and of all places, it was in a stable. There, that night, she gave birth to Jesus, while the animals in the stable ate their dinner, slept, or stood by. I can imagine the stench in the air, the discomfort of the straw bed, and the little creatures crawling about. There was no crib or bassinet for Jesus. No, He was placed in a manger, a food trough for animals.

This amazing and true story reminds me how God does incredible things in our lives that may seem insignificant to us. God is not impressed with the man-made glitz and glamour of this world. Mary and Joseph were not put up in a high-end hotel that night with room service and a view of the lake. In fact, they had very little comfort in their surroundings. 

I think that sometimes God takes us into places of pain or discomfort or places that seem substandard to us. We question why we have to endure things that we don’t think we should have to endure. After all, we are His children, right? Shouldn’t there be some perks to that status? But when I think about how He brought His Son, our Savior, into the world through an unknown teenage girl in a stable with animals looking on, I get a glimpse of how our Father cares for us. He doesn’t guarantee plush comfort, or that things will be easy, or that we will always be happy. What He does guarantee is that He loves us, He will be with us through everything we go through, and that our comfort is in our relationship with Him. He guarantees that He is working for our good. The proof is in His gift to us—Jesus. Jesus wasn’t wrapped in royal, silk blankets. He didn’t sleep in a soft, cozy basinet. He didn’t have elite status. His birth wasn’t announced throughout the town with embossed birth announcements. 

He came quietly that Christmas night, was born in a stable, wrapped in cloths, and laid in a manger. God’s most amazing gift to us arrived in a way that people might see as insignificant, yet it was so powerful. The next time you feel that you are insignificant to God, that your situation doesn’t rank high enough with Him, or that He hasn’t provided the way you had hoped; remember how He does things. He extends His love to us in the way He knows we need it. You are so significant to Him.

Happy Birthday, Jesus, and Merry Christmas!

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