Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Journey is Almost Over

     I've never given much thought to Christmas Eve. It's the day before Christmas, right? I know that there are a lot of people out there rushing around to finish up their shopping. My family always has a big gathering in the evening to enjoy our Christmas meal together. I might wrap the last couple of presents before bed. But, overall, it's the end of a month long journey I have spent in preparation and expectation. I feel as if there is a pause on this day... like holding my breath for the final moment. In this beautiful stillness, I find myself thinking of Mary.

      Have you ever wondered how Mary must have felt on the day before Jesus was born? She was traveling to Bethlehem. Pregnant and riding on the back of a donkey. Can you imagine how sore she must have been? The exhaustion, aches and pains must have all been so overwhelming. And then to be told that there was no room at the inn. Imagine her frustration. Her fear. Of course there is no room at the inn! It must have seemed like every person in the world was right there in this one town trying to be registered for the census. How could there possibly be space for all of them? And if things weren't already difficult enough, she goes into labor.

     When my son was born, the world seemed to stop. There was nothing else on the planet that mattered, except having that baby. Anyone who has children knows exactly what I am talking about. The long journey is almost over. Months of planning and preparing, leading up to this single moment in time when absolutely nothing else matters. And then...

     It's Christmas Day! Jesus is born and, finally, Mary is able to hold him in her arms. Imagine how she felt. So grateful. A beautiful, healthy baby boy - just as the Lord had promised. What difference does it make where they are? In that moment, that manger was the most beautiful place on the entire planet. And it still is a beautiful image - probably why nativity scenes are still popular today.

     Let's take a moment on this day to pause. Consider the journey. All of the things that have gone wrong during the last month. The aches and pains and discomforts we have experienced during our preparation for tomorrow. Think of everything that isn't "right" in our lives. You know... that inn that is full... Consider for just a moment that, like Mary, everything in your life is working out according to God's perfect plan. What seems like a run down, smelly manger in your life could turn out to be the backdrop for the most beautiful and amazing miracle that the Lord has ever performed for you. Trust Him. Be patient. And, most importantly, remember to take a moment and be grateful for that one ugly looking gift. It might turn out to be the best present you ever receive.

     Merry Christmas.

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