By: Michael B. Bowe
Christmas is difficult, and incredibly messy. I know, not the most positive way to begin a blog post. But, it is true. Christmas comes with all kinds of baggage. Moreover, working at the thrift store, I handle Christmas items throughout the year. It makes it a little more difficult for me to get into a festive mood. Furthermore, I have a large family so my credit card bills go up due to extra spending on top of trying to find and hide the gifts for all the kids. It is just difficult and messy.
However, I always do eventually get in a Christmas mood. Partly because my wife is incredibly festive, but more so because I am reminded of the first Christmas, the real reason for the season. See, Christmas was difficult then as well. Here was a very young girl, unwed, pregnant, traveling to a town that was not her own to register to be taxed. Then, due to the registration, the lodging was full. So, she found herself in a stable and the only place she could lay her newly born baby was in a manger. The picture is much messier than the pretty nativity scenes we use to decorate our houses today. Instead, it was messy, dirty, and difficult.
It kind of puts my struggles into perspective but it does a little more. It tells me the gospel. Jesus does not come when everything is fine, neat, and clean. Instead, God comes into our lives when things are difficult and messy. God comes to us in our stables. God comes into our messy stables and sits right in the middle. I get the fortunate pleasure of meeting many of the guys at His Way, working with them, and helping teach a class, almost weekly. Sadly, for many of them, life has been difficult and messy. Addiction has taken its toll on them, their health, their family, and their legal status. Addiction makes things really hard.
This is not how God wanted things to work out. God, instead, wished for us to have life and life more abundantly (Jn 10:10). Unfortunately, sin gets in the way. Sin makes things, such as Christmas, far more difficult and messy. The Greek word for sin is ἁμαρτία (pronounced hamartia) means missing the mark. It is an archery term. The Bible tells us that God has far better plans for our lives than anything we could ever imagine. This plan includes eternal life, fellowship, and joy. Yet, all of us, “miss the mark.” Sin makes things more difficult. Sin makes things messy. However, in the middle of the difficult, messy, stables of our lives, is the Christ child redeeming us all. This redemption includes addiction, overspending, or whatever other mess or difficulty we find ourselves in. This is the life changing message that each of the residents hear on a daily basis at His Way. This gospel has had a powerful impact on so many men’s lives. I know it has certainly changed mine.
So, each year, Christmas gets more busy, more expensive, more stressful, and more difficult. I have to bring myself back to the gospel within the Christmas story. The gospel that God came in the messiest of circumstances and redeemed the world, for all who choose to follow. To that end, amidst whatever difficult or messy Christmas season you may be experiencing, may you see God right there in the middle of it.