Keep Christ in Christmas. Every year I hear these words, see them on social media posts, bumper stickers, and even T-shirts. Don’t get me wrong, I, too, want to see Jesus glorified during this Christmas season, but right now, I want to keep me in Christmas.
I want the story of Jesus’ birth to be personal, not cliche. I want to look at a nativity scene and feel awe, not representation as a Christian. I want to experience the Lord, not add him to my Christmas experience.
I want to be more like Mary.
Mary was just this ordinary young woman. She was living her ordinary life in an ordinary place in an ordinary way when God called her to do something extraordinary.
Luke 1:26-38 shares those intimate moments when Mary learned that she would give birth to the Son of God. I’ve re-read it several times this week, and I am amazed every time. You should read it (here’s the link). Luke tells it far more beautifully than I can, but here’s the gist:
The angel Gabriel comes to Mary (a virgin) to tell her she will be the mother of Jesus, God’s son. "No worries," he says, "don’t be afraid." Mary, like any sane woman would be, is a little confused since, as noted earlier, she is a virgin. Gabriel tells her that the Holy Spirit’s got this. And, after very few details and just a little explanation of how this is all going down, Mary says, "If you say so, let’s do this." (I told you Luke said it more beautifully; really, you should read his version.)
You and I are like Mary. We are ordinary, but God can use us to do the extraordinary. He is not going to send an angel to earth to announce the extraordinary purpose he has called us to. It’s more likely to come in a whisper, a tugging at the heart, an idea that won’t go away. We are stubborn, and he is persistent.
But, if we open our hearts, we will hear him, we will hear our story:
“Do not be afraid. You have found favor with God; he loves you more than you can imagine and he wants to use you in ways that you cannot imagine.”
And you will say, “How will this be since I’m just this ordinary person?”
“The Holy Spirit will move in your heart, he will open doors, he will give you the words, he will give you the strength, he will give you the courage. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
My prayer is that you will respond like Mary saying, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
What is God calling you to do? Where does he want you to move? What dream has he planted in your soul?
I know it seems crazy; I have those crazy, impossible dreams, too. But remember, nothing is impossible when God calls you to it. Experience this Christmas season like Mary did. Go all in. Place yourself on that donkey in front of that stable and say, “God, I don’t know why you chose me, I don’t know how this is going to happen, but I trust you, I love you, and I am your servant."
*Originally published December 2017