God of MiraclesPosted: December 25, 2013
Let me begin by saying Merry Christmas to each of you. I hope that you experienced the joy and wonder of the birth of Christ while enjoying precious time with families. You may have thought that Christmas madness had gotten the better of me this last week but in fact, it was my one-year-old who got me a little off my game combined with last minute Christmas fun with family and friends– which I was determined to make a priority above all else. Overall, this was the least stressful Christmas that I have experienced in many years, I am happy to report. I hope the same for each of you.
One thing that caught my attention in the last few days was a very interesting poll about how Americans celebrate Christmas and how their beliefs inform the celebration. One of the survey questions that stood out to me was a questions regarding belief in the virgin birth. I expected that number to be very low because the lead in to the story was talking about the fact that there is about a 50/50 split as to whether people see Christmas as a cultural holiday or a religious holiday. Despite the fact that about half polled do not view Christmas a religious holiday, 73% of those polled believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. Okay, that blows my mind. Three quarters of the country believes in the virgin birth and it would seem that our collective response to this miracle is, “meh, pass me another dipped pretzel.”
Jesus was, in fact, born of a virgin as prophesied in Isaiah 7:14. I, like most of the country, believe this to be true and I, like most of the country, don’t let this miracle inspire me to awe nearly enough. The Christmas story is filled with miracle after miracle. Angels speaking to humans, a woman well past her prime conceiving a child, a star which leads 3 Kings to a child, dreams and visions informing regular people what to do to ensure that God’s promises are fulfilled, prophesies fulfilled that no man could have created. We know the story, we keep it in our hearts for a period of time and then we move on. I believe this says more about our human nature than it does about our culture specifically. Read from Luke 2 the response of the people at the time of Jesus’ birth to the news they had heard from the shepherds:
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
You may be thinking, that’s great. They were in awe. They just heard about something miraculous, marvelous in their small little town. Perhaps some even thought, “I remember the prophesy that the Chosen One would be born here. Could it be?” Awe-inspiring indeed and not at all secretive to those around. I would think some people would want to know what the future holds for that little baby and that perhaps some remembered the strange events of that night when Jesus emerged 33 years later as an inspiring rabbi who performed miracles and healings throughout the land of Israel. I could imagine confirming that this man had indeed been born in Bethlehem and believing that he must by Messiah. You could probably leave everything behind believing that God was doing miraculous things through this man and wondering what the future held. Then, I could imagine, knowing all of these facts, that when he eventually dies on a cross a criminal’s death, that I would still believe that he was the Christ because the facts were simply too overwhelming to ignore.
The reality is that after Jesus died on the cross there were only 120 followers who remained huddling together wondering what to do next. It would seem that it is very unusual that our human nature would allow the miracles and the facts that we see before us to truly change our lives and hearts completely. So knowing something, that Jesus is the Messiah, and believing something, that Jesus was born of a virgin, are not enough (unfortunately) to penetrate our core. I know this to be true of myself because I have experienced many miracles and many encounters with Christ in my personal life and, yet, like the people of Bethlehem, I am in awe for a bit and then I move on with my life. It makes me sad that I am so easily swayed from my first love, Jesus, but I am.
Fortunately for me, and seemingly most of humanity, God’s attention to me is not based upon my attention to him. He will continue to penetrate our lives and thoughts with the miraculous and the mundane as He seeks to show us His presence in our lives. He did this in a most startling way by sending us the gift of his son in human form as a baby. He wants us to know that He is with us and He is for us. He does not waiver in this. As my mind begins to transition from Christmas to pondering a new year, I feel a strong urge to pay attention to how God is speaking to me in subtle ways and to ask him to help me to be in awe of His presence in my life through His Son. If this speaks to you, pray this with me: Lord, wake me up! Renew your Spirit within me. Help me to seek you first above all things and to hold back nothing from you. Keep my heart sealed with your love and help me to desire your presence more than gold. Amen.
Thank you for reading these blogs over this past month. It brings me great joy to do this as time allows and I hope to do more in the coming year. If you would like to receive notification of future posts, please “follow” my blog at the top of this page. I will not be posting on Facebook each time that I post something unless I do a devotional for Lent. Blessings to each of you- J9