I wonder what the wise men were expecting when they followed that glorious star to visit Jesus with gifts for a king so long ago. I wonder about their stories and why they followed the star to begin with, why they journeyed so far to worship a child born so humbly. Was he what they expected?
And what do I expect as I prepare my heart for Jesus this year?
Come, Jesus, however you are going to come. Show up in the way you’ve planned all along.
I’m going to be honest that this December is different than others for me and different than I had planned. I was going to have my own baby born in the first part of this month and spend the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas wrapped in the newborn fog of middle-of-the-night feedings, baby snuggles, lots of walking and bouncing and rocking, and watching my girls bond with their newest sibling. I was going to experience new life, our own little miracle. But that didn’t happen.
We were going to dial down our homeschool and some of the usual Christmas activities and events and instead enjoy slow mornings and afternoons as a family while we figured out our new rhythms, loved on our new baby, and rested when we could.
As it turns out, we’re taking it easy from some of those activities this year anyway. In my tired and pensive state, I’m carefully choosing the activities we participate in so I can stay truly present for them, truly enjoy them with my family as we look toward Christmas. My soul just can’t handle the stress of too much busyness and chaos right now, and it longs for peace and togetherness and simple joys and rest and presence and meaning—and most of all Jesus.
Jesus, how are you showing up this year? I find myself asking in quiet moments.
The Israelites weren’t expecting the Messiah the way He showed up 2,000 or so years ago, and I don’t want to miss Him this year as my sensitive heart keeps beating through the breaking and the world keeps spinning sometimes at a dizzying speed.
I need Him in ways this year that I haven’t quite needed him before.
I’m so aware that He came to save this world from so much mess, so much grief and hurting, so much senseless sin and its painful consequences, so much death. But I’m also aware that He came in the flesh to feel what we feel, experience what we experience, and be close to us when we feel like we’re alone and no one else understands. He came to make a way for us to stay close to Him always.
I’ve felt that loneliness this year. I’ve felt that pain, that mess, the consequences of sin that make death something we have to experience in life. I’ve felt the weight of all of that as I’ve grieved the losses of my two babies and grappled with why God let them die before they could take a breath. But I’ve also felt the closeness of God, the gentleness of God as He stayed near me and listened to my heart’s cries and collected my tears and promised to hold my babies close as well.
God’s plan didn’t seem straightforward back when He sent his own son to live as the son of a carpenter from Nazareth of all places, and I have to admit that it’s hard to see what He’s doing this year with my family and my heart too. But Baby Jesus grew up to teach about the Kingdom of God like no other rabbi or prophet, heal the sick and blind, turn water into wine, and ultimately give His life in the most painful way and then rise again to prove He had conquered death and redeemed us forever.
And God is working in my life too.
I do believe that . . . even if I can’t see how all the pieces will fit yet. Even if I don’t feel whole yet.
So, here is my Christmas prayer: Jesus, how are you showing up this year?
I’m watching and listening and waiting, and I’m making space in my heart for something more than our usual, more than the busyness and fun activities, more than what I expected and longed for, more than I can figure out or dream up on my own. I’m making space for true peace and hope, true joy and love, which sound so basic. I’m making space for something only God really knows exactly, for Jesus and whatever He is going to bring with Him this year.
Come, Jesus, how ever you are going to come. And prepare my heart to welcome whatever you have for me this year.