Reclaim your sense of awe and wonder by reflecting on what is said, and not said, in the Christmas story.
Where’s the Wonder?
Do you ever find yourself wrapped up in the bustling holiday schedule, and even though you keep Christ as the center of the events, you find yourself missing the feeling of WONDER?
When was the last time you felt the magic, the feeling of joy and mystery, and gratitude that seems to come so easily to children?
To be clear, I am not talking about the wonder of Santa, although I do not think Santa is bad. However, let’s set the Santa discussion aside for another day.
The Problem of Busyness
I did spend last Christmas, focused on Jesus. While I certainly felt grateful that He came to save the world (and to save me), I am sad to say, I didn’t feel AWE.
Because we are busy. And because I’m often guilty of being so analytical in my thinking that my imagination gets lost; I read the facts and commit them to memory, but have trouble thinking on a deeper level. The heart level.
The Problem of Familiarity
Of course, the story is also familiar. While reading scripture often and knowing what it says is a good thing, we should never become sure it no longer holds new truth. When we begin to think any passage of God’s Word doesn’t hold truths we don’t already know, we limit God and we limit our own sense of wonder. This is true, no matter how many times we’ve read it before.
All scripture is meant to be treasured, each time it’s read, and then to be questioned, wondered at, and pondered.
Looking For More
This year I want more! Don’t you?
We don’t have to settle for a wonderless Christmas. Istead of assuming we already know the story, we can look over the Gospel accounts with fresh eyes. Then, we can pause along the way, taking time to look for details we haven’t thought about before. We can consider the characters in the story and try to understand how they felt. Look for the questions and fears they wrestled with and the amazing work God did in and through them.
Its time to stop assuming we know it. We don’t!
Reclaim Wonder by Considering the Unspoken Details
While reading the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth, my focus has been spent pondering little details and thinking about what is said, and what IS NOT SAID.
Admittedly, this has generated more questions than answers. But here’s the cool thing, the questions have left a sense of wonder that this story has truths that are not revealed. I am acutely aware that I cannot understand these hidden truths within the limits of my human mind, and they cannot be explained by science, reasoning, or deduction.
Like much in the Bible, there are details and truths in the Christmas story that God intentionally left out; mysteries left behind for us to marvel at.
Mysteries generate wonder!
I don’t know all the answers, but I do know the Christmas story needs to be more than ‘read’. The miracles, the gift of God’s son, and the great work of God that began with Jesus’ birth deserves to be studied, reflected on, and to be AWED at, with wide eyes.
In order to experience the WONDER of Christmas, we have to take time to realize what there is to wonder about.
One way to do this is to pick a character in the story and consider their experience.
Last week I shared what I discovered while thinking about Mary, and what her experience would have been like if it happened to, gulp, ME.
The Wonder of Jesus
Today, my thoughts are all about Jesus. Fully God. Fully man…
My thoughts were on Jesus when I saw this sign in Hobby Lobby while trying to find a craft for my son to make for his preschool teachers:
I’d seen the sign before and thought about how cute it would be in a new baby’s room. But never before had I made a connection to Jesus and how these words are more than fitting to describe His birth.
It is easy to think of Jesus as a cuddly baby and to celebrate His birthday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure He was cuddly. I’m sure he was as sweet as all newborn babies are, complete with ten tiny toes, ten tiny fingers, and baby soft skin and hair. Of course, Mary and Joseph thought there was never a baby as cute as Him.
There was certainly never a baby as miraculous as Him, but we know from scripture that Jesus was quite ordinary. He blended in with the crowd – it was His actions and character that set Him apart.
The meaning of Christmas is more than just the miracle of His conception by the Holy Spirit and birth to a virgin.
The Wonder of the Father’s Love
God did not have to send Jesus. And Jesus did not have to abide by the Father’s will. God does not have to love us. And furthermore, God could have kept his plan limited to His chosen people, Israel. God didn’t have to blow the doors off their hinges and open the way for the rest of us to come to know Him and be saved.
The truth is, God doesn’t have to do anything. Which means, He chooses to love, to redeem, to save. Perfectly.
I have no reason to offer God that can make Him want to include me, to save me, to love me. In reality, I should be unlovable by God. I am sinful, ungrateful, selfish, and I could go on, but I think you get the point. In God’s holy presence, I deserve only judgement and wrath. God is far too holy to tolerate even ONE of my many, many sins. I deserve Hell; we all do.
The Wonder of God With Us
And yet, on that day, God became flesh, Emmanuel. God With Us. Why God would desire to be WITH us? I cannot answer. But when He came to earth as a baby, God not only dwelled here, but He paved the way for the Holy Spirit to dwell WITHIN us.
In us. A gift we don’t deserve. No words can express how priceless this gift is. It’s all grace.
Jesus was fully God. How can we fathom what this means? Was He actively restraining His power at all times while on earth? Did He, as a tiny baby, have to allow Mary to take care of Him? He certainly had the power to meet His own needs! And yet, allowing others to raise Him, care for Him is baffling. Was that a part of how He humbled Himself to experience our life? Did He do it to show how only He could remain sinless as He experienced our physical and daily challenges and temptations?
I don’t think we’ll know these things on earth, but I can’t wait to ask Him in heaven.
When all will be revealed.
The Wonder of God’s Restraint and Plan
Our God is certainly powerful, but He also has the utmost self-control – The RESTRAINT required to live 30 years without showing His power. Oh my! It’s unfathomable.
He makes no mistakes. He committed no sins.
Not. A. One.
He MEANT to come, to carry out this amazing plan, to fulfill every single prophecy, to serve us and love us in this way. He was all-powerful, all-knowing, and able to do anything. But He lived a quiet life before His ministry began. His life’s sole focus was on fulfilling an eternal purpose. To save us. Us. You and me!
He chose no worldly glory. He didn’t come to reign as King and to rule over all, even though He is the ultimate King, of ALL Kings. Ruling here could have been His rightful place. But His plan was eternal, more perfect than we can ever understand. This is a plan we could NEVER come up with. He aimed to save as many as possible. A plan to end ALL plans.
The Wonder of Jesus’ Loving Sacrifice
Certainly we cannot know the truth of all of these mysteries, but I believe HE KNEW all of this the whole time He was on earth. It doesn’t explicitly say in the Bible if as an infant Jesus was pondering these things, but since He was fully God, I believe He did.
I believe that when Jesus came as a baby, He knew how and when His life would end.
Can you imagine the self control, love, and faithfulness of living each day for 33 years, knowing the exact time and circumstances of your death? He knew He would be ridiculed, punished, beaten, spit on, and hated by those He loved and came to save. The sins of those who brutally crucified Him, He bore on the cross. He looked in their eyes, knew their names, and heard and felt their scorn.
Do you wonder how love could be so big? So deep? So motivating to God that He would do all this? Do you wonder how an all-powerful God could be so humble as to enter His own creation? To feel pain, physical exhaustion, and all of our frailty? And to be unrecognized, and to be rejected, all while not striking down those who certainly deserved it?
Only a God who IS love could do this.
The Wonder of Uncommon Grace
Jesus entered a world of sin. Full of sin. As THE Holy God. Every person who had ever lived before, and has lived since deserves His WRATH. Yet He held it back, even when surrounded by sinful men, women, and children.
Surely, the sin in the fallen world He entered repulsed Him. But despite His ultimate authority, He showed mercy. He demonstrated attributes that we struggle and fail to emulate: Unconditional love.
And oh, how we need His grace! But we don’t deserve it, and can’t earn it.
The Wonder of it All
When we think of these things, when we WONDER about these things…
We gain a new perspective on Christmas. Wonder brings depth, peace, joy and gratitude at a deep level.
Here we stand today, washed white as snow by the blood of Jesus, all because Jesus came as a baby, grew up, and died for us all.
I find myself finishing this post, words blurred by tears of joy (If you know me, you know that tears do not flow freely for me very often, which holds significance here). They are welcome tears to someone who often sees the facts but often misses the heart of scripture.
I find my thoughts wrapped up in the mystery, in awe and in gratitude, at the wonder of it all.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 (ESV, emphasis added)
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