The truth is that I have paired back my Christmas 'to-do's' as much as possible this year....but I still feel like my speed of productivity is akin to trudging through the mud while pulling a bootcamp style tire. So even though I've tried to simplify....somehow my short to-do list still awaits me for the most part. Smile. Breathe.
But in the mix of that reality, is the other reality. The realest one. I've been thinking a lot about the fact that I've heard many times that Jesus was probably not born in December at all....more likely April. LOL! But still, there is something undeniable about Him in the air. It's like He's hanging over me welcoming me at any moment to slip away mentally and ponder the fact that He came. He came for me. And you. He came. Wow...my mind can't even hold it all.
And I think about Mary. Her journey. We've read and heard the story so many times that we become familiar with it. But if you take a step back and look with fresh eyes, her story deserves a big. fat. WHAT????!!!!! She went through what? Literally everyone must have been whispering behind her back. She MUST have had a few moments of thinking back on the words of the angel and wondering if she had made everything up in a hallucination. And then she would have looked down to her middle and been reminded that she was in the middle of walking out something that was so far beyond her.
In fact, if anyone would have been entitled,as we like to think of entitlement, to favor, as we like to think of favor,...wouldn't it have been Mary?
I wrote this last year and it's still one of my favorite bits of truth to ponder during this season:
A few weeks ago I was reading the second chapter of Luke and something hit me so hard - as if I'd never read the words before. Isn't that the most beautiful thing?!
Here's what I read:
"And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."
Have you ever had one of those days where it seems that even your lost keys are against you? Seriously all you need to do is get to the store to pick up apples and toilet paper. But getting out of the house unfolds into one of life's great challenges: the shirt you thought would be clean, wasn't. The two year old wants to bang against your legs as you put on eyeliner. Said two year old really doesn't care to get out of his way too soggy overnight diaper and runs yelling "Noooooo!!!!!" You stump that same old toe on a red Hot Wheels that has blended into the red of the rug on the kitchen floor. Somehow, by the grace of God, you are finally dressed and he is finally dressed. The purse is in hand. He is hoisted into the car seat and wrestled in to be buckled. You sink in to the driver's seat and reach for your keys. WHERE ARE THE FREAKING KEYS?????!!!!! And you literally have this thought somewhat consciously - 'I am going to hurt someone.' Next thought: 'Are you kidding me God? Do you see me here? Are lost keys in this moment REALLY necessary?'
There are simply those moments when my sense of entitlement to a certain level of ease and what we may like to call blessing, take me back a bit. Hello ugly.
And then I read that teeny tiny phrase at the end of verse 7: "....and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."
Double take. No room for them in the inn. If there was ever a human entitled to a little special treatment from the Most High - IT WAS MARY. Mary had the kind of faith that awed the heavenlies. She was willing to sacrifice every single bit of her reputation to submit to the Lord's plan. She was even willing to go it totally alone if it had been too much for Joseph. Who knows what her parents thought. She carried the most precious human being in her middle and then got on a donkey. A donkey. Only to get to Bethlehem and be told "We're so sorry. There's no room here tonight."
If I applied my humanity to Mary, her thoughts may have gone something like "Really. Really? Do you see me God? I feel so much pressure that I might explode. Was it too much to ask you to divinely touch my bladder so that the last pit stop wasn't necessary? If we had gotten here twenty minutes ago would that room have been available? DO YOU SEE ME AND YOUR CHILD???"
Somewhere along the line, we've come under the impression that the one God blesses does not encounter challenge.
But it's stories like Mary's that make it so clear how off that is! If anyone deserved some TLC - it was sweet Mary. But God had a bigger picture and a much more beautiful story unfolding that superceded what we may think Mary deserved in our human perspective. Our Savior took his first breath of air on Earth as a human in a stable, with animals and cloaked in humility. In fact, the very truth that He came as a humble King is a huge part of the story of Salvation. Mary's lack of comfort became a cornerstone piece of a story that has been told for thousands of years and sets this God-man apart. He came in humility, he lived in humility and he died in humility. There was something of much more import taking place than whether or not God was good enough to give them a room instead of a stable and a manger.
Mercy, Father. Forgive me for belting out my "God where are you???" cries when the challenge presents itself. Humility is a beautiful gift and this is a beautiful season to turn our eyes to It.