Here at the beginning of the Christmas season, if you are like me, there is a lot to do. Well, that might be an understatement. There are more things to get done than I could accomplish if I cloned myself three times.
There are decorations, trees, presents, Christmas baking, umpteen office, Sunday school, and Bunco parties; the kids need things for school; there’s a chorale concert; someone’s in a Christmas play, and I can’t even remember which one of us it is.
In the meantime, there are 4 family gatherings to attend. (Someone is sure to get their feelings hurt at least 3.) And all the while, laundry still beckons, groceries still have to be bought, meals still have to be made, and the floors still have to be mopped, to make my home a peaceful and inviting refuge for my family…
But I’m the one who needs refuge. Looking like a crazed lunatic, wild eyed and tight lipped, I hum “O Come All Ye Faithful,” as I furiously check off items from my to-do list. Christmas doesn’t happen unless Mom makes it happen.
This craziness feels so far from Jesus. I LOVE Christmas, but I can start to feel a little buried alive if I let myself. I start to look longingly (and kind of begrudgingly) at my nativity and think, “I would pay good money to hide out in a stable (which might have really been a cave according to an article I recently read… A cave! even better!).” I see beautiful pictures of the Madonna and child; Mary, so peaceful and lovely, looking on the face of her new born babe. And I think, “Yeah, that Mary, she was blessed. No wonder God chose her.”
Mary, a young teenage girl, engaged to be married, chosen by God to be the mother of His Son, hailed by an angel as highly favored and blessed among women. Sometimes she doesn’t even seem like a real person, this girl in so many paintings, on my Christmas cards, and in my nativity. Pastors have done their best to humanize her, but… she is Mary, picked by God to carry out an incredible responsibility because she was… special. She must have been perfect, holy, and wonderful. She had to be. Ummm… me? Yeah, not so much.
As I sit there in my full blown pity party, thinking, no dreaming, of hiding out in a cave, I am reminded of something. It’s just the tiniest of thoughts, but it tugs at the corner of my mind… and it’s quite amazing. I am reminded that I was chosen. In spite of my grinchiness, the family fiascos, forgetting who is actually in the play, and murmuring about The Engineer having no idea what it takes to make Christmas happen, I was chosen. WE were chosen.
Did you know?
Ephesians 1:4 in the amplified translation reads, “Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.”
He picked out me and you for Himself …. to be His own family! Just like he chose Mary to be His family!
Did you know?
In Luke 11:28, Jesus refutes a woman in a crowd who begins to praise Mary as being special. He says, “Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” The Greek word for the phrase yea rather is menoun or menounge and is literally translated indeed quite the contrary. This is how it reads:
And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto Him, Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you,”
And Jesus replied, “Indeed quite the contrary, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.”
That is US! Certainly, Mary was blessed to be the mother of Jesus, but Jesus says that if we hear and keep the Word of God that WE are more blessed!
Did you know?
When the angel tells Mary in Luke 1:30 that she has found favor with God, the Greek word for favor in the original text was charis. The same word that was translated as grace 127 times in the New Testament. Yes, grace—the kindness and favor God extends to those who don’t deserve it. That is the same word that is used 127 times in conjunction with our salvation and the way that God relates to us today.
I didn’t know, but I am so glad that God always did.
The good news of Grace is that even though we assume that Mary must have been so very different from us, must have had something that we don’t, it’s just not true. While she was blessed indeed to be Jesus’ mother, God views each of us just as individually special and worthy to be called by Him. You and I were specifically and individually handpicked by God to be in His family; we have the same favor, or grace of God, that Mary had, and Jesus even considers us more blessed if we are simply keepers of His Word.
I know that sometimes we can let the demands or even the disappointments of the Christmas season steal from us what is most important. But I want you to be encouraged by knowing who you really are in Christ and how much God really does love you. There is no better way to celebrate the birth of Christ than to embrace who you are in Him and to rest in the assurance of His love. After all, He was born in that manger over 2000 years ago just so that could happen.
Would you like to know more about who you are in Christ? Check this out.
If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, how awesome would it be do that as we celebrate His birth? Don’t wait another minute. In an instant, your spirit can have the same identity as the scriptures above describe. God handpicked you, too! Ephesians 2:10 says that you are His workmanship. God loves you! All you have to do is accept his invitation to be a part of His family. If you would like to know more about that, click here.
***Pin these 3 simple truths to remind you that you are blessed too!***
Life For Today: Study Bible and Commentary, Gospels Edition. Andrew Wommack.
Strong’s Online Concordance (Bible Hub):
- Strong’s Greek: 3304. μενοῦνγε (menoun and menounge) — rather, on the contrary
- Strong’s Greek: 5485. χάρις (charis) — grace, kindness
Want more encouragement this holiday season? Check out these ASD favorites!