“When you wake up every morning, aren’t you just so excited and grateful that Jesus came to die for you?” My friend, Nancy, asked me this question at a Christmas concert a couple weeks ago. She had asked this same question to a group of ladies who had been followers of Jesus for many years and they all sadly replied, “No”. I thought for a minute and replied, “Since our imperfect son went to be with God’s perfect Son, I am very grateful every morning.” But do I always live out that gratitude and excitement throughout my day?
God had already started a joy work in me over Thanksgiving as I stepped into a deeper and more intentional prayer life. However, Nancy’s question reminded me that no matter what is going on around me or if the rest of my peeps aren’t walking in joy, I don’t really have an excuse for not living a second by second life of gratitude and joy, walking with the anticipation of eternal life and an abundant life on earth.
This year I have meditated a lot on the response of the people surrounding Jesus’ birth. The Christmas story is full of wonder in all the characters, but my favorite verses in the Christmas story are of the shepherds. I love reading it in the Message as it captures the humanness of the ragamuffin characters God chose to announce it to first.
Luke 2:15-19 The Message
“As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.”
Probably tired from a long day in the fields, they didn’t just mosey on over to find the Messiah, they ran and told everyone, even amazing Mary!
My cousin, Missy, was recently doing a study on this and shared this powerfully interesting Bible history trivia.
“Bethlehem was a Levite city and the shepherds in the surrounding area were charged with raising the “first born male lambs, perfect and without blemish.” To accomplish this, when certain lambs were born they would put them in a specific cave wrapped in swaddling clothes so as not to thrash about and be hurt. So, when the angels said the baby will be found in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, they knew exactly where to go to find Him AND they knew the significance of the perfect I AM being born!”
The shepherds knew they would be free from the burden of the law and it would be fulfilled in their Messiah, in their lifetime! I’m sure every day after this, they woke up, ecstatically free knowing their Messiah had come.
I am sitting here in my favorite room in my house to have one last morning with the Lord watching my Christmas tree lights. On the left is a mess on a misplaced chair, the last remaining re-positioning of my office moved to make room for our daughter to return home. Praise God! On the right are the boxes to pack the remaining ornaments away until next year and in the background, the mantel lights are not quite as perfect as they were last week, a kind of frazzled joy still shining.
I was reminded this morning as I stepped into this room that despite the messes in my life the light still dawns every day and when focused on this, the messes in the darkness are minimized. A check in my spirit reminded me of my friend’s question and prompted me to develop a constant habit to recognize this light every day in 2018, without the Christmas tree reminders. Will I let this light live through me past Christmas?
January is typically a time for us to reballance our lives, physically, mentally and spiritually. I will be taking a break from social media. My plans are to go even deeper into this Messianic Joy, getting to know my Messiah more and focus on relationships that aren’t distracted by my phone. And, I will be praying for all you, my friends and family, that the light will dawn brighter in your lives too.
If you would like to send prayer requests via Messenger, or through this blog, I would be sincerely happy to add you to my list this month.
Have a radiant 2018!
In His Embrace,