Have you ever been Black Friday shopping? I went this past year, and it was a mess. We didn’t want to wait in line, so we waited until the stores had been open for about 90 minutes, and it was like a tornado went through Target and Walmart. While a lot of people were still out shopping, it felt eerie. Lining the isles were empty pallets where TVs and other electronics had been, the cases in the electronics departments were all open and empty, and random items were everywhere. It was chaotic.
When we think of Christmas time, I think we picture the opposite of this Black Friday scene. We sing songs like Silent Night, and we expect all to be calm and all to be bright. We expect everything to fall into place just like a lifetime Christmas special, and I think these expectations can set us up for some real disappointment. Honestly, I feel like Black Friday shopping is a better analogy for the Christmas season than Silent Night. We get caught up in the hustle and our lives seem to get away from us in this season. We go out and spend way too much money on gifts, we go out of our way to decorate our homes, risking life and limb to make it perfect, and we we have intricate plans to make sure everyone in our families is happy… its chaotic.
Maybe it is not this way for you, but my Christmases tend to be less like Silent Night and more like the Griswold family Christmas. Between scraping together enough money to buy everyone in our lives gifts to planning Christmas so all 3 families get adequate and meaningful time, it seems to be a headache every year. And it is only going to get worse next year when our daughter is with us (because no one knows how to guilt trip like grandparents, am I right?)
Luckily, even with all of the chaos we may face during the holidays, it pales in comparison to the first Christmas. When I read the story of this first Christmas, oddly enough, I am filled with hope because of the chaos. You have a teenage Mary who becomes pregnant out of wedlock, her fiancé, who is not initially convinced that she is still a virgin, and a marriage that Joseph was going to end because of this pregnancy. Then, you have an 80 mile journey to Bethlehem, by donkey, with a woman who is super pregnant, which would take 4-5 days. Once arriving, you have no hotel rooms or Airbnbs in all of Bethlehem, leaving this teenager to stay and give birth in a barn… and in this barn, the Savior is born.
In the midst of all this chaos, the promised Messiah is born. The Creator of everything comes into this chaotic situation, into our chaotic world, to save the world. In the middle of the mess of Mary and Joseph’s situation, Jesus comes. The single event that Israel longed for happened in the most unlikely situation. This is because Jesus is not hindered by the mess. He is not intimidated by things not being perfect. He is not stopped that Joseph didn’t call and get reservations… He still comes into the world to save the people from their sins.
This first Christmas shows us that God is always at work in the mess. God is not waiting for your life to be clean and tidy before He steps in to be a part of it, but He meets you where you are. He has a plan for your life that doesn’t start with your life being perfect. It begins with your simple willingness to give God your life to be used by Him, and He will use it. It is as simple as that. He does not require your perfection, but He does require your participation.
As our Christmas approaches, and after it is over, let us not forget that even if it is hectic or chaotic, God is still at work. Let us remember this, even when it does not match what we see, and even when it seems impossible. Jesus came to this earth through a virgin, and last time I checked, that’s impossible too. But God works best in the mess; in the impossible circumstances. In the chaos of the holidays, or the chaos of your life in general, remember the words of Habakkuk 2:3 as you face a situation that seems impossible.
3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
God does not work on our timetable. If He did, there is no place for faith. Maybe you think it is lingering way longer than it should, but remember that Jesus’s timing is perfect. At just the right time, He broke through the chaos to save us. At just the right time, He was born. And at just the right time, He will step into your chaos and make it beautiful. Our job is to simply have faith.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of graceand truth.
Trust the process. Take your next step. Now is your moment.