The angel said to them, “Good news! The Messiah is finally here, bringing peace and hope that’s for everyone. Here He is, we’ve mysteriously teleported you to the location and stood you directly in front of him. See? Just look down. There he is!”
No wait, rewind…let’s try that again. The angel said to them, “Good news! The Messiah is finally here, bringing peace and hope that’s for everyone. To find him, go look for a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, having been laid in a feeding trough.”
I remember reading through a devotional book years ago that instructed me to daily look for ways God was present in my day, in the life of my family and those around me. I was looking for something He did every day, some answer to prayer – big or small, something that reminded me of Him or showed me in a fresh way how amazing, beautiful, powerful or creative He is. Purposefully looking was the key; every day I had at least one thing I could write in my journal and when I looked back over the list later I was so encouraged to remember how God had been so near, so faithful, so good.
In the book “The Last Battle” in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, it is the end of the age and an epic struggle takes place between those who have held to the truth and still believe in Aslan (aka God) and those who have been misled into following a false god. The final conflict of the story takes place in the dark of night around a campfire that crackles in front of a dingy stable. Somehow, as the prince and children in the story, dwarves, centaurs, talking animals and all were tussling and battling, one by one they fell through or were thrown through the stable door. Once through the door they stood blinking open their eyes to blinding sunlight, a sweet-smelling breeze, rolling green hills that swept off toward distant beautiful majestic mountains, thick green forests, and blue skies. They would eventually figure out that they were on the edge of heaven, paradise. Some of the “evil” or misled characters passed through the doorway but plopped down on the ground with arms wrapped tightly around their knees, refusing to even open their eyes. Even when the others already there tried to encourage them by telling them, “Look! It’s beautiful! It’s safe, you’re okay. Open your eyes and see,” they would pull away and complain that it was stinky, dark, and awful. They believed they were still in the run-down, dirty stable when all along they sat in paradise.
The shepherds had a choice to make once serenaded by the angels: stand there shaking their heads, trying to figure out what just happened, or do what the angel said – go look for this Messiah baby. I’m so glad they chose to go look! I’m sure it took some effort and time with all the homes and stables that must have been in Bethlehem, and with them rushing about at night. They could have just sat back down by their fire, hugging their cloaks to themselves in the chilly darkness, when nearby the very warmth and light of God Himself was present. They would have missed the most important moment of their lives.
It’s difficult to see Jesus amidst all the commercials blaring, digital Christmas carols playing, bustling people, and such but He is here. We have to look for Him – on purpose. When we do we will find Him and will find blessing. Peace. Joy. Hope. Promise. Rest. We also have to resist the urge to just sit down and hide our heads, letting difficulties, disappointments, anxieties and more blindfold us and keep us from realizing how close we are to paradise. The light did come to a dingy stable but that was just the beginning! The glory of God fully resided in that tiny little baby boy and was revealed more and more as Jesus grew, became a man and walked with the people He had created. In the Bible, John tells us that even though God Himself, was right there in their midst, many of the people didn’t see Him or recognize Him. It’s because they weren’t looking! Sometimes I think, “well I would have seen Him of course” but am I really any different than they were?
Dear Jesus, please don’t let me miss you as you walk in my life, by my side. I can’t express my thankfulness for your presence with me, with us. Unwrap my arms from around me, uncover my eyes, soften and show my heart You are here.