“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…” Isaiah 9:6
What a joyful event we will celebrate in just a few more days! As I have every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve spent these December weeks busily preparing for Christmas. I bake the holiday breads and Christmas cookies my family loves. I deck the halls with our traditional decorations, hang the stockings, trim the tree, wrap the presents. I spend extra time in prayer, stash bills in the bellringers’ buckets, and listen for the cherished carols that herald the day of our Redeemer’s birth.
I know how to prepare because I know what to expect, and what a blessing that is!
But the Israelites to whom Jesus came were expecting a different kind of messiah. Instead of a baby in a manger, they were waiting for a political leader, a king who would rally the troops, drive out the Roman overlords, and establish an earthly nation. Only the shepherds in a field were privy to a miraculous birth; summoning the courage to open their hearts to the words of angels, they followed a star to go to Bethlehem, where they found the Lord himself. Instead of a political ruler, they adored a Child who assures us, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)
I think that’s what births are about – making things new. Whether it has been the literal birth of one of my own five children, or the beginning of a new phase in my life, these events change what I have previously known, and often have shattered the expectations I had beforehand of what the birth would bring. I’ve learned that the richest – and holiest – experiences result when I’m open to whatever God brings me, and that, thankfully, God will never be limited by my own expectations of what I think should be.
As a writer, this same courage to open my heart to God’s leading has shaped my writing career. I studied and trained to write scholarly works of spirituality, but instead, I’ve found a niche in humorous cozy mysteries, of all things! The journey and the rewards I’ve experienced have far exceeded anything I could have imagined, bringing me a rich new life I hadn’t anticipated. I’ve learned to toss out my own expectations, and instead, enjoy what God creates anew for me.
In these final days before Christmas, as I wait again for Jesus to be born in that stable, I pray that each of us will take a moment from our well-loved rituals of preparation to courageously open our hearts, and, without any expectation, receive what God has in store for us.
“…And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
May your Christmas make all things new!
Do your expectations prevent you from seeing something totally new and unexpected?