The birth of Jesus was fraught with uncertainty, danger, fear and hardship. It worked out well in the end. What about our own lives? ♦
When you think about it, most people associated with the very first Christmas had very little information about what was really going on. It was a mystery, a compelling mystery involving confused shepherds in the area around Bethlehem, about 5 miles outside an unaware city of Jerusalem. Certainly Mary and Joseph had the inside story on a coming baby, but the true impact and long-term significance of the predicted birth was like an unfolding dream. The story involved their harrowing 70 mile trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a real and dangerously evil Jewish King Herod, star-following Magi, their traveling entourages and a disinterested but ruthless Roman government authority.
The situation was bleak and tenuous. Even a bit hopeless.
Light in the Darkest Night
We know how the story ends. The baby born is Jesus, the Christ, the promised Messiah for the nation of Israel per the Hebrew prophets. He’s the promised seed at the time of the curse in Genesis 3 and the blessings to “all the nations” further expressed to Abraham and his descendants throughout Genesis. Yes, the first Christmas night turned out well despite uncertainty, danger, fear and hardship. None of the participants – even the prophets – knew how it was going to all really play out in their own times, let alone down through human history. But God knew and He plays His hand in ways we cannot understand or fathom.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8
In fact, the savior of the world, Jesus, God incarnate, survived and thrived for 33 years. His perfect sacrificial death atoned a Holy God and changed the course of human history and our spiritual destiny. The story does ends very well.
O Holy, Busy Night
And so it’s another Christmas Holiday Season. If you’re like most people, you find yourself once again appreciating the wonder and beauty of the Christmas season of giving, family and love. And Jesus, of course, is ‘the reason for season’ you’ll say. But if you’re honest, you know it’s also really about family visits, gift lists, shopping, buying and decorating Christmas trees, getting the lights up, going to parties, figuring out what to wear. Should probably include the annual gingerbread house creation for the children and which church service to attend to accommodate Christmas dinner plans. While it’s a wonderful season, it’s hectic, busy and, in many cases, overwhelming.
The Christian Drift
It’s as subtle as a slow fade. How easy it is for even the Spirit-led Christian to let a day or two or three or even a week or two go by and find themselves caught headlong in full Christian drift – that insidious realm of work, family, and faith meshed with Christmas cheer and holiday jeer. You think you’re praying but you’re not. You think you’re walking with God, but you’re walking alone in your own mind’s thoughts of this, that, and the next thing. The excuse is warranted and accepted, by you. The rationale is perfectly reasoned and justified, by you, and maybe even your spouse and family members. After all, it’s Christmas and you’ve “got a lot going on.”
Don’t buy it. God doesn’t. Never has. It’s a bogus human justification of sinful, selfish disobedience. Remember that difficult first Christmas night? Lots of room for selfish justification all around. Confess the disobedience of placing the cares of the world ahead of the King of the world and all to which He calls you. Resubmit your heart, mind, soul and will to the God of creation, love and saving grace. Our dark and busy Christmas days can be lit up and restored to full joy, thankfulness, forgiveness and blessings. Redirect and go for that, a truly joy-filled, Merry Christmas!
Are you focused on the right things this holiday season?
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. – Proverbs 19:21
Categories: Christmas, Church, Devotion, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Holidays, Israel, Jesus, Old Testament, People, Theology
Thanks for the reminder and encouragement, Mike.
Great reminder and encouragement. Thanks Mike!