When people hear that I’m a December baby, they get sympathetic. “You were gypped!” they say, imagining me shoved to the corner, watching the world celebrate Someone Else’s birthday instead of mine.
When I was a kid, we celebrated Christmas Eve with my mom’s family. Grandma Roberta had a giant kitchen and a job for everyone who entered. There was so much laughter and bustle in that kitchen I felt sorry for the guys in the living room with nothing to do. After dinner, everyone gathered in the den. In the light of the tree with the screw-on limbs, Grandpa Burl read the Christmas story from Luke. He’d hand out one present at a time, giving us time to unwrap each gift and say thank you before moving on to the next person. Don’t get me wrong, I dig ripping the paper off a package, but my favorite part was sitting silently in the dark, leaning against someone who loved me, listening to Grandpa’s soft, clear voice that cloaked the room in peace.
God gives us so many gifts, but more than anything in the universe He wanted us to take a break from writing wishlists and notice Him. For generations after Adam’s fall, we tried to broker deals with God, quaked in fear of Him, or just ignored Him. I once heard someone compare us to goldfish in a bowl, terrified by the tap on the glass, chasing the food flakes that descend from above, completely unable to relate to the life and desires and compassion of the giant outside the bowl. So God poured as much of Himself as would fit into a tiny body that had to wear cloth diapers and learn how to communicate. In the process, we learned how to communicate with Him. He made Himself vulnerable and had to trust us. Mary fed Him, Joseph took His hand and held Him up as He took His shaky first steps. Growing up with our birthdays so close together, I was reminded that I wasn’t the only one who went through the shame of pimples, the insanity of hormone shifts, the heartbreak of rejection and the joy of finding my voice and using it to make a difference.
In the end, people violated God’s trust violently, but He knew how we were before He came. He needed us to see ourselves, so we could recognize that we aren’t God and we need God for much more than our wishlists. And He wanted, like any of us, to be understood by the ones He loves.
After Grandpa handed out the last Christmas gift, there were always a few more packages under the tree. They were mine to unwrap 4 days later on December 29. I think that was my first lesson in trust. I can put Jesus first. I can give Him the spotlight, and He will always take care of me. I never lack for birthday celebrations, but even if nobody recognized that I was born, I know His love. I’m still a little girl marveling at God in a body. If you enjoy acoustic guitar, listen to this song I wrote with Justin Kasparek: “Body Like Mine.”
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” Acts 20:24 ESV. That’s not a sacrifice; it’s the best life I can imagine.
If you’re still a goldfish, recognizing the giant outside only as the source of food and fear, or swimming in circles ignoring Him, take a minute to open yourself to the possibility that the Creator of all you see (and much more) wanted your conversation badly enough to deal with the limits of a body. Let Him take first place, and I promise life will take on a whole new perspective. Merry Christmas.
Jesus, thank You for coming. Thank You for being willing to go through what we go through, joy and exhaustion, connection and rejection. The truth of who You are is outside anything we’ve experienced, but we’d be fools to think we’ve experienced everything. Take our hearts right now, and make a home in them. Be the Lord of our decisions and our days and show us the life You have for us, which surpasses anything we have made on our own. In Your name we pray, amen.
Jesus said it:
John 10:7 I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:30 I and the Father are one.