Much of December, up to Christmas Day, is referred to as the season of Advent, which means “coming.” For many Christians, these weeks offer an opportunity of preparation as we await the coming of The Greatest Gift – Jesus – AND the fact He IS coming again, just like He did that first Christmas night. This season is also a reminder of the years and years (and more years) of waiting the Israelites did for the coming of the promised Messiah, whom their own prophets spoke of for generations as The One who would finally come to save and redeem the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people. The same people who had lived as a broken people while either under captivity or as slaves or without borders since their beginning. And so they waited and waited and waited.
Then waited some more.
But when the promised Messiah came, guess what? Most didn’t recognize Him. Why? Maybe it was in the “how” He came?? As a baby, born on the run, in a dirty barn, of a simple virgin who’d been promised to a carpenter, from a town which nothing good ever came. And then, as a carpenter’s son turned nomad, He came again to the people without any ambitions to rule over an earthly kingdom, nor anyone else, for that matter, but instead spent His time breaking down cultural barriers and casting out demons and speaking against traditions and insulting respected leaders, all while choosing to hang with the simple and lowly of society, and washing dirty feet and touching the unclean and loving the unlovely.
Bottom line: This Messiah seemed rather messy and nothing special and certainly nothing (until you got up close and really looked, but that’s for another day!) resembling anything of the saving, life giving sort. Certainly not to the super spiritual, hyper rule keeping, elite and educated religious folk of His day.
So, who would ever imagine this Jesus could be God’s doing? You’d think the Creator of The Universe, with all it’s magnificence, would use a bit more flash. A tad more taste. A story a little more polished and cleaned up. Or, at the very least, something a lot less… simple.
Good uses the simple to confound the wise…
Which makes me think about Romans 8:28… how God promises all who belong to Him that He’ll work all things for our good and, more specifically, how many of the things that happen in this life don’t really seem like they could ever be worked out for any good. And then – honestly – how many are just downright awful horrible!
And also super messy and completely unwanted.
Like the manger in the barn, Jesus was laid in. Then I think, well… maybe all the messy, dirty, unexpected, unappetizing, super complicated twists and turns and full on slam brakes of life are actually just like the unassuming and basically unwelcome (to most everyone but His own family) greatest Gift that first Christmas night.
Even if we can’t see it at first. Or, even quite a ways down the road. Until that one day, when we’re astonished to discover, we’re still above water and even breathing because we’ve actually been riding upon the wings of This King of Kings. Our Savior, Jesus. The Messiah promised to God’s people all those years ago.
The One Who Is coming back.
And, so maybe seeing the messes in our lives as the gifts in our lives, will help us in all the unwanted waiting in our lives? Maybe seeing the broken places as the place God breaks us to fix us will sustain us in the wait.
Because, just like Unexpected Gift we’re all awaiting on this Advent, the messy, broken, unwanted things in life, have been allowed to enter our lives by a good and loving God. A God Who desires nothing less than to lead us into His good, faithful, strong, and sustaining arms, so He can hold us together.
So, this Advent, be sustained in your wait, because God will prove Himself good – and very much worth it – in the mess and…!