We try to make it home at least once a year, usually at Christmas. For the times that we do go home at Christmas, we have created a tradition we like to call Fakemas. It’s a day set aside to celebrate our own personal Christmas before we travel. We open presents, eat a special breakfast, find something fun to do and eat dinner out. This year, we had a lot of fun with the boys. We wrapped all their presents without name tags. Each kiddo had a different colored paper and we didn’t tell them who was who. The excitement of the secrecy was compounded by the fact that the gifts were weird shapes. In truth, we had taped together empty boxes in funky angles with clues to where the real present was hidden. We couldn’t wait for the boys to figure it all out. I couldn’t even sleep the night before!
But before the fun & games, Matt read the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2.
It took careful thought and planning for the morning festivities. We had started shopping in August and each gift was chosen with anticipation of the joy it would bring the recipient. As I listened to the unfolding of God’s plan, all I could picture was His excitement. He has, since the day Eve tasted that fruit, waited to give us the gift of His Son. God has meticulously prepared with forethought each detail. He even left us little clues throughout history pointing to this culminating day.
When God called Abraham out to be His own people, He looked to the future. When God spoke to Moses on a mountain laying the framework for sacrifices, He gave hope for future. When Israel asked for a king, God could only think of the one King which would change it all. When His people lay in captivity, God couldn't wait to raise them up to freedom.
At long last mankind would unwrap His gift of salvation. All of Heaven burst forth with the song of angels and the shinning of that special star. God’s passion could not be contained!
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.
The funny thing is, as I write this, it's Christmas Eve and I feel like I lost the wonder of that moment on Fakemas morning. I have wrestled with these words for the last couple of weeks, trying to squeeze in a few writing moments here & there while fitting in every last activity I can with family. I've worried about balancing my time with two sides of the family. I've stressed about my kids being hopped up on sugar and their somewhat spoiled attitudes. My mind is constantly counting, keeping track of the travel budget. Family traditions of Advent and quiet moments of seeking Jesus have fallen by the way side. I lost sight of The Gift.
God didn't sit at the beginning of time and plan this wondrous story so that I could run around trying to be perfect. Rather it was to illuminate my imperfection & highlight my need for Him. It was meant to create a humble awareness & awe of my Savior. Much like Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mary didn't have time to make sure the stable was clean and the right people were invited to the event. Heck, they couldn't even find room at the inn. She didn't have time to worry if she had enough diapers. This baby was coming and He was coming now. She humbly accepted God's plan for this moment in time and her only thought for the moment was to embrace this Gift that God had placed in her arms.
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Mary sat in the glow of the coming dawn, with only the sound of animals shuffling and the soft cries of a baby. She was still. And she hid it all in her heart.
In the busyness, in the brokenness, in the fun, in the lonely places...pause for a moment. Pause and ponder the Gift. So That you may know the wonder of God's love for you.