For some reason, I'm feeling a little unmotivated. Maybe it is because the flurry of activities that characterize our life this time of year is starting to catch up with me. Yes that could be part of it, but I know there is more. I keep thinking about something. I keep thinking about what Mary and Joseph were doing in the days, maybe weeks leading up to that first Christmas. They were walking. Ninety miles to be exact.
Can you imagine Mary? Pregnant, tired, dirty.
We talked about Christmas with our second and third graders this Sunday. Lance showed them a picture of Mary and Jospeh's journey to Bethlehem. Mary's simple dress was a dull white stained with dirt, a far cry from the clean pink or baby blue we often picture in nativity scenes. I appreciate the accuracy. I bet her ankles were swollen, too, and no doubt her back ached something fierce.
They walked through arid desert, mile after mile, day after day. I wonder how many nights they spent camped in the cold? I wonder how many quiet tears Mary shed as her very pregnant body begged her not to take another step? I imagine I would have cried a few.
What's puzzling me this morning, the reason I'm in my pajamas in front of a computer screen and not in line at HEB, is why God chose to bring them from Nazareth to Bethlehem on such a difficult journey. I know the facts of the story...Joseph was from Bethlehem and the governor had ordered a census. Or even on a larger scale, it was prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem so it was God's plan that they travel there. But why plan it that way? Why require so much of Mary?
Maybe it's because Christmas is so much more than celebrating the night that King Jesus was born. It's about how we recognize His Kingship those other 364 days a year, those days when the journey is long and the road is difficult.
The last several days I have checked off a lot of important Christmas "to-do's" and prioritized those treasured Christmas traditions. At times these things have been accomplished at the expense of having patience with my kids or allowing the older lady struggling to hold a 24-pack of diet coke in front of me in the marathon line at Wal-Mart. This morning I realized that being on schedule to pull off another festive holiday for my family is not the same thing as being prepared for Christmas.
Being prepared for Christmas is so much more. It's how you walk with Christ all year long. It's being obedient when He says go, surrendering to His will no matter what it costs, allowing His strength to carry you when you feel you cannot take another step, trusting His precious promises to sustain you, and celebrating His Kingship, not just on Christmas but every single day.
God put someone on my heart this morning, someone who I know is hurting. The kids and I are going to visit her, and the presents in my closet are going to be gifted in reused Christmas gift bags instead of the bright wrapping and glittery bows I had planned. Because today I'm going to prepare for Christmas!