Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

How often does a mother of eight spend Christmas morning alone?  I would be tempted to say, "Never!" but it wouldn't be the truth.
It's actually the second time in my 18 Christmases with my Coach.  The first (several years ago) was because I had strep and could. not. get out of bed.  Ugh.

But today?  It's a funny story that I won't take the time to tell, but the Lord is teaching me flexibility.  (grin) And my sick girl is asleep in her room, leaving me with the empty house and the quiet.

I'm not complaining.

I am missing the chaos and fun of the Coach's family Christmas up the street.  The masses of food and tons of kids everywhere and lots of sisters-in-law to catch up with.

But the quiet is nice, too.

My heart has been pondering Christmas these last few weeks.  Amid the chaos of school activities and family times and shopping and cooking. . . I've been purposing to focus on CHRIST in it all.

Reading through the Christmas story once again, thinking what it means to me.  And to you.  To all of us. . that He came to earth as a baby.

Tell me, WHY did Mary put baby Jesus in the manger when he was born?  Am I missing something? I realize it makes for a lovely creche scene and all, but tell me one thing. . . you who have given birth. . . isn't the baby in your arms after you deliver them?  I'm so confused.  If the manger was the only place to lay Him (our King Savior Baby Lord), why didn't she just keep Him close?

But then I begin to think about Mary, the mother of our Lord. . . giving birth to a baby, not having even known a man, certainly not knowing Joseph well (courtship back then brought about even less contact than the Coach and I had!), in a strange place, a smelly, noisy barn. . .

I remember the birth of our first son.  Child birth takes you out of every comfort zone you've ever known.  And if you are a private person, like I am, it's a little awkward.  Ok.  A LOT awkward.  And here sweet Mary is, we assume without her Mother or anyone familiar to give her comfort (although I suppose we don't really know who else might have been there), doing something completely hard and humbling. . .

Maybe I would have put the baby in the manger, too.

As I learn and grow and mature (hopefully!) and just plain get older, the trials of life, my own inability to do anything on my own. . . it's all drawing me closer and closer to my Savior.  I'm learning to hear Him, to trust Him more deeply, to lean into Him when trials come.  He has become my Comforter, my Strength, MY Faithful Lord.

Why do I still sometimes try to push Him away?  Truthfully?  Life is just messy.  I look at my heart (deceitful above all things and desperately wicked), my motives, my bad attitudes.  I look at my kids, their failings, imperfections, and weaknesses (which I have quite aptly passed along to them).  I look at the Coach and see that he isn't always the perfect husband, leader, father that he should be.  I look at my home, my messy cabinets, unfolded laundry, dirty dishes, sheets that need to be washed, a freezer that needs cleaned out. . . .

And sometimes I hesitate to bring my Faithful Father THERE.

Into the mess of it all.

But isn't that what Christmas is all about?  He "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

The "likeness of men".  We're messy.  He came right into our mess and met us there.  With our insecurities and pride and unforgiveness.  He felt the cold and the heat, the hunger and the pain, the sadness and grief, the joy and companionship, the love and the hate.

He became like us in every way, except remained perfect . . . even though He felt it all.  The good, the bad, the SIN of all mankind.  He felt the guilt of every wickedness ever existing from creation to the end of time.  He bore it all for us.  So we could be forgiven, loved, secure, SAVED.

It wasn't pretty, perfect, or all smiles and flowers.  But I'm eternally grateful He came.

Into our mess.

Into our NEED.

I think He can handle it.

So I'm praying that next time I try to put Him away from me. . .  because I'm feeling unworthy, or embarrassed at my attitude or the ugliness that still creeps out, even after being His child for most of my life. . .

I'm remember that manger.

That He is with me IN it all.  All of the mess that is ME and my life and my family and my circumstances.  It's not as if He's going to say, "Wow!  I never knew it was this bad!"

In fact, I know from experience that He'll just say to me, once again, because I'm so quick to forget. . .

"It's OK.  I came for this.  For YOU."

He can redeem the worst messes for His glory.

May He do so in my heart and yours this (imperfect) Christmas Day, 2012.

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