As I've been going through my quiet time each morning, I found myself studying Christ's birth during this Christmas season. Never before have I taken the time to think about the nativity story, as I usually just go along with the usual picture we've all been given since we were children. But this year was different and it started with a message I heard about the messiness of what Christ was born into. The nativity scene I display in my home is quite pretty...very plain and definitely not showy, but I make sure that the shepherds and wise men are placed "just so" amongst the animals so that they are symmetrically placed and we get an unobstructed view of each of Christ's visitors. However, my nativity scene doesn't have dirt around it anywhere, and it definitely doesn't smell like I'm sure the manger would smell. The animals I display are clean and leave no unwanted waste behind them. Isn't it funny that we make sure our nativity scenes are so perfectly beautiful when the real scene where Jesus was born was anything but? Of course the story we are so familiar with is beautiful solely because it's about Jesus' birth. But the situation He came into was anything but perfect. I was reading this morning again about Mary and Joseph and how they probably endured incredible ridicule from their communities. The Bible doesn't tell us so, but we do know that Elizabeth and Zacharias were ridiculed when they couldn't conceive, so it's only logical to believe that Mary and Joseph endured the same type of hardship - if not worse - when Mary was told she was pregnant and she wasn't even married yet. Still.....Mary and Joseph obeyed and it was all worth it when they saw the face of their son - their Lord.
So what are we called to in our lives? Much like Mary and Joseph, and that manger scene, I find myself in "messiness" much of the time. Many of my life's circumstances are not the perfectly beautiful ideal that I had in mind when I dreamed of life as a little girl. Still, I am realizing that God has called me to fulfill many different roles amongst the messiness. As a wife, mother, and follower of Christ, life isn't always filled with a pleasant aroma. But I am seeing now that when I choose to obey as Mary and Joseph did many many years ago, I too see the face of my Lord more clearly. There is nothing more beautiful and no feeling compares. Of all of the gifts I've been given this Christmas season, this lesson is one I am most thankful for.