2020 has not been ideal.
That’s an understatement.
Did you complete your 2020 Resolutions? Me neither. Not even close. I made it to the end of 2020. That’s enough.
None of us saw a single aspect of this year coming. I have lost count of how many times the wind has gotten knocked out of me.
The other night, our family was watching one of our Christmas movies, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”. The early 80’s nostalgia is overwhelming as I remember wearing the same clothes and hairstyles as the little girls in this movie. If you have never seen it, the storyline is about a church’s Christmas play whose preparations are interrupted by a family of children, known as the Herdmans who are dirty and unruly. These children are bullies and feared by everyone who encounters them. They had never stepped foot in church, but the promise of something drew them there that year…food. One of the children at church mentioned he could get all of the snacks he wanted at church after his lunch gets eaten by a Herdman.
Each of them were cast in the major roles of the play because they threatened everyone involved. Mary, Joseph, the angel Gabriel, and three Wise Men were all played by Herdmans. The supporting characters of the movie take turns voicing how less than ideal these children were to play such glorious roles in the Christmas story. The Herdmans were dirty, their clothes were torn, they smoked cigars in the bathroom, stole communion juice from the pantry, and money from the offering plate. No one would have hand-picked these children to play starring roles in a Christmas play representing the Holy Family.
These children were not ideal.
Neither were the characters of the real Christmas story.
Mary was a virgin unmarried teenager when she first learned of her pregnancy.
Joseph was an unmarried man expected to support a child that he did not help conceive.
Jesus was not a warrior, come to save the Jews from Roman oppression, but a baby, born in a dirty room with smelly animals.
The shepherds were the least respected members of society. They were filthy and ostracized.
The wise men were not Jewish, but astronomers from foreign lands who worked for royalty.
To the members of the religious elite, each one of these characters played into scandal that was less than holy to their Holy Yahweh.
By the end of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”, the Herdmans had everyone in tears, proclaiming it the best play the church had ever put on. Physical hunger brought the children to church, seeking the abundance of snacks they had heard about. Their spiritual hunger kept them there, seeking more details of the characters they would portray. The audience doesn’t know if the Herdmans changed their ways, but hopefully the pious church family did. Their opinions of an ideal Holy Family were challenged by viewing the play through the eyes of poor unruly children whose spiritual hunger was greater than their physical needs.
The Christmas story is not full ideal characters and circumstances, but neither are we. Maybe it is the circumstances that are less than ideal that can create the most change. They require us to shift our focus and our hearts onto the core of what really matters. The Christmas story is meant to change you and me to shift what we thought to be ideal and surrender those thoughts and opinions over to a God who can take the less ideal and shape it into something we never could have imagined.
“We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:28 MSG
The young virgin had no idea that the less than ideal circumstances surrounding the birth of her baby boy would result in His brutal death. It would be the ideal event to save the world from destroying itself.
Jesus’ death is still the one and only event to save each one of us from ourselves. The sin that oozes out of our pores is made clean only by the ideal sacrifice of one man.
Your goodness isn’t ideal enough, your kindness isn’t ideal enough.
Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.” John 14:6-7 MSG
It took Jesus a baby in a filthy wooden feeding trough to be the bridge for us to have full access to a relationship with God. Until his death, the gap was too great for us to cross.
2020 is not ideal … but God can take less than ideal people and circumstances to flip our focus. We can’t spend our lives waiting on our circumstances or other people to change. Spoiler alert: there are plenty of aspects about you that are less than ideal, but a life surrendered to God is the first step. Ask God to shift your focus to see people and circumstances through His eyes. You’ll be surprised with a transformed heart you gain in the process.
Now that is ideal.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holy-days. Thank you for reading my heart and supporting my writing ventures. I can’t wait to bring you more in the next year.