December is finally upon us! (Well, almost.)
How I love this season.
Cold weather, boots and scarves, fires at night, Christmas light tours, and can I get a *WOOT WOOT* for 24/7 Hallmark Movies!?
Of course, there’s more to this season than cheesy (and predictable) romance flicks, lights and apparel. Ultimately, this season we celebrate the glorious gift of Christ who gave us the best gift of all: salvation.
As sweet as it is to reflect on this gift of salvation, have you ever thought about the package it came in? It’s easy to see the beauty of it now, but when the Promised Messiah came, his demeanor and his mission took everybody by surprise. This gift of eternal life actually came wrapped up in utter brokenness, rejection and humiliation.
For starters, God chose Mary, an un-married, teenage girl to be Jesus’ mother. Imagine explaining that one to your parents: “Umm.. Mom..Dad? I’m gonna have a baby. But don’t worry, it’s God’s!” Not only this, but the only available place for Mary to have Jesus was in a smelly barn; his crib within a feeding troth. Then, the king at that time wanted Jesus dead and attempted to kill him by murdering hundreds of baby boys. As He grew, Jesus’ ministry left him rejected and even hated among many. People expected the Messiah to be a rich, majestic, take-over-the-world type of guy. Instead, Jesus came as a humble man, who chose to serve instead of dominate. Man’s hatred ultimately led to Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, ruthless abuse, and crucifixion.
How in the world can we look at those events and call them a….gift?
Had we not known how this story played out, we probably wouldn’t have the guts to call it that.
But we know how this thing panned out.
Jesus lived the perfect life we couldn’t.
He died a sinner’s death so we didn’t have to.
He became the sacrifice that made a way for man to be restored with God.
He was resurrected so we could take part in a beautiful exchange.
By coming face to face with our sin, repenting and trusting in Christ’s sacrifice, we are able to receive forgiveness and a new life with God’s spirit inside of us.
Looking back and seeing the whole story through, we can see the beauty, awe and wonder of this amazing gift.
But I’m sure it didn’t look or feel that way in the midst of it all.
In our own lives, we go through unspeakable trials, detestable heartbreak and find ourselves in the most broken places. In the middle of these trials, it would seem frivolous to speak of such devastating events as gifts. But after we’ve received healing, comfort from the Lord, and can look at our situations on the other side of time, we see the hand of God bringing about something glorious out of the ruins. Just like the life of Christ, God can use some of the ugliest events to bring about the most beautiful of gifts.
This Christmas season, I am all for celebrating the good and well-recieved gifts we’ve been given. However, I also want to celebrate those gifts that wreaked havoc when they first arrived. The trials that seemed impossible but ended up bringing the greatest joy, divine dependence, and intimacy with the Father.
This month, I’ve invited a handful of other writers to share their stories about gifts in their lives that came in unexpected packages. I know you will be able to relate to and be encouraged by the ways God turned some of the worst circumstances into platforms that now tell of His goodness. I hope you’ll check out their websites and get lost in all the great things they have to say! This month’s writers are:
Tanya Cowley at Boldly, Tanya
Nancy Gladwin at Timeless Truths
Michelle Rabon at Displaying Grace
Marlene DeForrest at My Hope For Autism
Jerusha Borden at My Flying by the Seat of My Pants Life
Sylvia Ronnau at Struggling in the Trenches
I. CANNOT. EVEN. WAIT. I’m so excited to spend this month celebrating the unexpected and being encouraged by God’s faithfulness in other’s lives and our own.
It’s gonna be a great time.