This is one of those days where I blew it. Big time.
I woke up with an agenda — never a good sign. “Finish the Christmas cookies and tidy up the kitchen,” sounds simple enough, right? Unless you factor in that I’m a perfectionist with three children.
To be fair, it wasn’t all my fault. The knowledge that we’re opening gifts tomorrow morning transformed my precious children into deranged, entitled, quarrelsome, spoiled brats (whom I love dearly). I spent a most of the day screaming: “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!” in answer to every wheedling prediction about their impending windfall.
By evening, I’d made an unscheduled trip to the grocery store, yelled at 100% of my children, made at least 33% of them cry, intervened in too many arguments to count, made up yet another kids’ chore list that will be completely ignored, and threatened to return each and every Christmas present and run away to Mexico with the money.
Yes, I finished the stupid cookies. And cleaned the stupid kitchen. And hated every minute of it.
My hubby came home,
rescued fed the kids, and I left for a haircut appointment. Give me thirteen minutes in a kid-free car and I will unravel the mysteries of the universe (almost). My thoughts went something like this:
That was a disaster…
…Good grief, my kids are missing the whole point of Christmas…
…I’ve obviously failed to raise them properly…
…Maybe… it’s because I’m missing the whole point of Christmas.
Once again, I tumbled headlong into Truth — as reflected in the mirror of my children.
There’s no small amount of hypocrisy in my yelling “JESUS IS THE REASON!” while I stress over baking 15 dozen perfect Christmas cookies and getting all the pots and pans washed.
It doesn’t take cookies and clean kitchens to behold Him.
Not that the Christ Child didn’t deserve pomp and circumstance. The wise men who came from the east to worship the newborn King certainly made preparation. Summoned by an auspicious star, their journey encompassed almost 1,000 miles and likely lasted for months. They brought gifts of great value to lay before Him — but they surely packed supplies of water, food, clothing, and shelter, too.
Theirs was a well-planned and deliberate journey.
But they weren’t the only people who came to worship at the feet of the Savior.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
Not priests or mystics. Not kings. Just ordinary shepherds.
I don’t know much about sheep herding, but I’ve known plenty of cattle ranchers. If my observations amount to anything, I can say this: animal husbandry isn’t glamorous. It literally stinks. And there’s no schedule. Whatever the hour, whatever the weather, you’re on deck.
So I can picture these shepherds. Ordinary guys with rough hands and weather-worn faces. Clothing tattered by brambles and stained by who-knows-what. Low-key, no-nonsense. The kind of guys who can fall asleep anywhere and wake up in an instant — no matter whether they’ve slept for twenty minutes or ten hours.
There they were, out in the fields like any other night, when they, too, received an auspicious summons:
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’
Suddenly, their ordinary night became one like no other before or since.
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’
— Luke 2:8-15 (NASB) [emphasis added]
The text doesn’t say that they herded the sheep back into town, or called in some substitute shepherds. The implication is that these simple men dropped what they were doing, left their flock, and went looking for the Savior who had been proclaimed to them.
Again, I’m no expert on sheep herding — but it sounds something like a bank teller walking away with the vault door wide open. The practical side of me wants to scream: That’s your livelihood, guys!
What if we — what if I — sought the Savior with that kind of urgency?
No preparations. No lists. No worries for tomorrow. No strategies or second-guessing. Just urgency.
The Savior awaits. He is come. Now. This very minute.
There’s no wrong way to kneel before Him. Sometimes it demands planning. The magi came prepared, bearing gifts of great prestige — the culmination of a long journey.
But the shepherds came in a headlong rush, anxious to see firsthand what the Lord had made known to them. Not a moment was wasted to gather gifts, or change their clothes, or settle their affairs. They recognized the significance of the call and they responded with urgency.
As a planner, I’ve been the magi more often than not. But I think it’s time for me to come as the shepherds did for a change. Unwashed, unprepared, and empty-handed, if need be. It’s not the cookies and cleaning and tidy gifts that matter, anyway.
I don’t want to miss this gift. I want to see Jesus. I want my kids to see Jesus.
I want us to behold Him firsthand. Urgently. A Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Gloria in Excelsis Deo