The nativity scene on my bookcase was there the whole time. I simply missed it.
Plans were made and my hopes were high for our family time at Christmas. As all of my carefully laid plans began to unravel, disappointment set in. Where I’d hoped for laughter and joy, there was silence. As hard as I tried, I could not hold back the tears of heartache throughout the day. Oh, I tossed up prayers asking God to help me hold them back and to give me strength to rise above the circumstances. But I became so focused on what was wrong that I missed the message of the manger that was right in front of me.
Several years ago the Lord impressed upon me that Mary laid Jesus in a manger, and mangers are messy places. Jesus doesn’t ask us, or expect us, to clean up first. He comes into our messy, tear-filled, hurting, chaotic lives. The nativity scene on my bookshelf reminds me of this.
This Christmas, I had a mess. One I had created by trying to create a perfect, idyllic, memory-filled day. I placed far too much importance and hope in plans that depended on things and people outside of my sphere of control. And when those plans did not materialize, a mess set up residence in my heart.
A mess that overwhelmed my thoughts and my feelings. One I needed to stop and bow down in before the Lord. A mess I needed to extend out with open hands to give to my Savior.
The manger stood silently looking over the circumstances, the silence, the disappointment and the tears. The manger took it all in and waited for me to turn my eyes upon it and invite Jesus into my messy, hard place. But I did not do that. I did not place my hope in Jesus that day. I did not come to him for my peace.
We would have all experienced the miracle of Christmas just a little more if I had lived into the message I know so well and still forgot. The message of the manger.
Christmas, as a holiday, is technically over. And a Christmas themed post is not expected as we look toward the promise of a new year and new beginnings. The temptation is to move on, be glad Christmas is over. I admit I had those same thoughts. I was dangerously close to staying defeated, hopeless, and hurting until my gaze rested on that nativity scene. I was struck by the call to remember that the promise of a new year is rooted in the message of the manger.The message of the manger is that Jesus comes into our messy every time. Christmas never ends. Click To Tweet
So maybe this is exactly what we need. A reminder that Christmas never ends. The coming year will have its fair share of hard situations. Will we let these hard situations defeat us? Will we stake our hope in our plans or in Jesus? Will we, in the midst of a messy and difficult place, remember to turn the eyes of our heart to focus on the manager and remember its message? Will we let it be our promise for new beginnings?
We don’t ever want to be glad that Christmas is over. It is never “over.” Not if we are living into the promise of tomorrow through the message of the manger.