Have you seen that cute little Shepherd on the Search? It’s kind of a “Christian” Elf on the Shelf. (Although the Elf on the Shelf can still be Christian, I’m not calling you an atheist if you do Elf on the Shelf #everyonebecalm.) You move the little shepherd around each day, closer and closer to the manger scene, and eventually, he comes close to Jesus on Christmas day.
I’ve been thinking about that little shepherd and Christmas and all the things I’m doing or planning to do (going to a live nativity, buying the perfect gifts, baking all the yummy things, making sure my kids know and understand the Christmas story), and in that pondering, one question has risen to the surface:
Will I be closer to Jesus on December 25th?
Because really, it is all a wash if I haven’t moved closer to Him. What’s the point of Christmas if I’m so busy chasing Christmas I don’t move closer to Jesus?
In the Christmas story, there were some people who moved closer to Jesus. The first ones I thought of were the three wise men. Matthew 2:1 says, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King behold wise men from the east came to Jerusalem.”
The wise men are believed to be from Persia. Their journey was about 1,000 miles and took approximately 25-30 days. It was long and hard; they faced opposition.
Some of us are going to have to put in some major effort to move closer to Jesus this season. We will have to say “no” to some good things to say “yes” to the great things. We may have to get up early for those quiet moments of sipping coffee by the Christmas tree lights reading the Word. It may take battleground prayers when we walk into family situations that still hurt. It may take deep leans into the Spirit for patience to deal with upset sleep schedules and over-sugared children.
It may be hard, but like the wise men, let’s move toward Jesus.
The wise men weren’t the only ones who moved closer to Jesus. “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger” (Luke 2:15-16).
The shepherds had a short journey, closer to Jesus. He was just over the fields as they rushed with joy to see His face. Some of us may have a joyously short journey to Jesus—so short, we can sprint to Him.
Maybe that’s you. You are just “feeling it” this year. The spirit, the season, family, digging into Advent with your kids. It all feels magical and Jesus is SO close. You are excited and quick to press into the Father this season. You can’t wait to spread the news.
Keep on spreading your joy to the world, sister—we need your encouragement. Like the shepherds move toward Jesus with a tune in your heart and a spring in your step.
Finally, there is one last person I want to speak of: Mary.
I am a very private person when it comes to giving birth. I don’t want anyone except my husband there with me, and I don’t really like visitors at the hospital. I just want to rest (hahahahahahaha!), nurse my baby, and have food brought to me on a tray. I definitely don’t want strangers around unless they are bringing said food. So I’m in awe of Mary just for not losing it on the shepherds, the sheep, the whole situation. Bless her.
By the time Jesus is born Mary, I believe, is physically and spiritually exhausted. Mary is tired–she’s traveled days by foot or donkey. Mary is shamed—she got pregnant before she was married. She’s separated from family. She is physically and spiritually drained.
She doesn’t have the strength to move toward Jesus. So HE comes to HER.
The incarnation. God comes near.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
If this Christmas you don’t have the strength to move toward Jesus, He is coming to you.
You just sit there, mama. His grace and truth will come pouring in. If you are aching from the loss of a loved one, that first Christmas missing someone who SHOULD be there. If you are dealing with illness. If you are holding together a marriage that just isn’t “working.” If you are exhausted caring for a newborn. If Christmas reminds you of all you’ve lost or missed out on. If it dredges up old wounds that leave you paralyzed.
Jesus is coming to you.
“And from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16).
So no matter where you are . . . a wise (wo)man on a long journey, a jubilant sheepherder, or just a tired mama . . .
Let’s receive the joy and peace He promises. Let’s get grace and give grace. Let’s get closer to Jesus this Christmas.
Originally published on the author’s blog