My dad loved Christmas more than anyone I know. I believe it was because he didn’t learn to cherish the true meaning of the holiday until late in life. After a tough upbringing, fighting his way up the ladder of success, a fierce battle with asbestos related cancer, the loss of many friends who battled the same disease . . . and lost, the prayer of a visiting preacher and his subsequent healing, he finally came to a place of fully committing his life to Jesus. The faith of his later years was beautiful and childlike.
Many of us have heard the Christmas story so many times over the years that we know it backwards and forwards and, as a result, have lost the wonder of Christmas. As I put up my Christmas tree this year I asked the Lord to renew in me the wonder of Christmas.
Imagine with me for a moment the roller coaster of feelings the key characters in the Christmas story must have experienced as they were given their part, their great assignment from God, and then watched it play out before them in “real time”.
The virgin Mary – The angel Gabriel appears to her telling her that she will conceive a son by the Holy Spirit. He will be called the Son of God and will reign over the house of Jacob forever. Overwhelming in every way yet she answers, “Let it be to me according to your word.”
Joseph – Betrothed to Mary when he finds out that she is pregnant . . . and the child is not his. As he is thinking about how he will break the betrothal quietly an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and tells him that the child is conceived of the Holy Spirit and will fulfill the prophecy, “The virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” Joseph also answers, “Yes.”
To be willing to answer YES to this great calling we know that both Mary and Joseph must have been devout in their faith and were likely familiar with the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. In faith they walked out an extraordinary obedience and took their stand against adversity so prophecy could be fulfilled. No matter the consequence . . . humiliation, heartbreak of family members, rejection by their own people . . . they believed God.
The lives of of Mary & Joseph were changed forever. The road ahead was filled with obstacles yet they never wavered as they walked forward by faith into God’s purpose and calling for their lives.
This is the new story behind the usual Christmas story that God impressed upon me this year. The faith of Mary and Joseph is an example to me to walk forward into God’s calling on my life even though it may get tough at times and the outcome is unknown. It is the same old Christmas story that I’ve heard year after year but this year it has a new lesson for me based on where I am in life.
As I grow older I, like my dad, feel the wonder of Christmas being renewed in me. Maybe you’ll ask God for a personal application of the Christmas story in your life as well. I pray that your heart will be filled with new wonder this Christmas season.