I think now is just about the right time to write my Christmas blog. I know that it is a couple days after Christmas, but that's ok. Reflection is good. It was a very lovely Christmas. It is so important to have time with family. I do regret, however, not spending enough time sitting in the stable next to the watering trough, gazing at my Savior and Creator in awe. Its funny how so much of that other stuff takes captive the brain, even when your brain is on vacation. I did manage a few minutes alone to reflect on and to ponder that first Christmas so long ago. With all birth, there beauty, and there is pain. So often we reflect on the beauty of the birth of our Savior. This year, I strive to see the pain, the great sacrifice made. I strive to see Mary's pain; betrothed to Joseph, she becomes pregnant. I can only imagine the pain she must have felt looking into Joseph's eyes when he noticed her belly growing, knowing very well that he had not been with her. It must have been a knife to the soul to see the hurt in his eyes. I imagine Joseph's pain believing that the woman he would do anything for, the woman he loved more than himself, had just betrayed him. I imagine both their pain as society shuns them, thinking that the "model couple" has just exposed themselves for what they really are. I imagine God's pain as the time his son would leave his thrown in heaven to go to earth and die for men approaches. I imagine Christ, anticipating the moment, looking down as if from backstage waiting His cue. He knows very well, that He will be hurt, that every person He loves will betray Him and His Father simply by being human. He knows how sin will surround Him. His whole life will sting like salt in a cut, yet I see excitement in His eyes. I imagine Jesus, shivering in the cold, wet and naked, as His mother wraps Him and lays Him in the hard, stone trough.
This Christmas, well, this semester, and perhaps my whole life if I had only been paying attention, God has been teaching me about boldness. Christ demonstrates great boldness, great risk, in coming as a baby to a sinful world for our sake.
I recognize my timidness. It repulses me. I long to be bold as Christ is bold, but I seem to be sitting still. It's far to easy to cling to a life of timidity, a life that won't get you in trouble, but at the same time won't give you adventure. I picked up Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge again. I needed a bit of encouragement. Listen to how John describes God's risk,
"God needs to get a message out to the human race, without which, they will perish...forever. What's the plan? First, he starts with the most unlikely group ever: a couple of prostitutes, a few fishermen with no better than a second-grade education, a tax collector. Then, he passes the ball to us. Unbelievable...
God's relationship with us and with our world is just that: a relationship. As with any relationship, there's a certain amount of unpredictability, and the ever-present likelihood that you'll get hurt. The ultimate risk anyone ever takes is to love..."
This was the risk a tiny baby took for our sake the first Christmas morning. And war raged!
1A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. --Revelation 12:1-6
The greatest gift of peace to mankind was the greatest act of war towards the enemy. In the middle of this war, lay a baby, the one who will rule with an Iron rod, our Bold Savior, Jesus Christ!
Satan would stop at nothing to destroy him. For once, I'd like to see a Christmas pageant with a seven headed dragon with ten horns. Why cast kids as cows, why cast 13 shepherds or 4 wisemen, and three camels, leaving out the villain of the story, the risk of the story?
13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."...16When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.--Matthew 2:13,16
I'm not to sure how accurate this image is, but I always want to imagine Joseph clinging to Mary and Jesus as they gallop through the dessert towards Egypt under a night's sky. Invisible to them, and parting as they gallop onwards, is a war of angels, heavenly and fallen, battling, fighting for the life of the child.
Jesus, The Savior, entered this war, this earth, this pain, this betrayal, for us. He experienced Hell for us; all for a relationship that would let him down.
John Eldredge went on to quote C.S. Lewis,
"Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal."
God gave us his heart that first Christmas morning. It was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lied in a manger. What a risk to take; what boldness. He knew we would kill his heart.
I want to be bold like that. I want to love without fear of a broken heart, willingly offering it into the slippery hands of fallible human beings. I want to take risks. Yet, I'm scared, so scared.
Teach me to be bold, O Lord. I want to boldly surrender, embracing the pain that scares me away. Let me hear you call me a Man. Let me hear you tell me I have what it takes to fight my part in this war.
...But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.
I will continue to Ponder you in my heart, pondering the Bold God I serve, the Bold God who chose to become a small, and helpless infant child for the sake of his love.