It is hard to be purposeful with little ones. Their lifestyle of neediness leaves a person drained of all energy, creativity, and sometimes sanity. (See picture above. Help. First I laughed my head off then I worried about my son's priorities and his immortal soul. But first I laughed.) I can literally feel the energy draining from my brain as I put my little ones to bed. It's just hard. But we need to be intentional. We must. They say we're losing our young people in the church. They call us hypocrites. Could it be allowing our love for Jesus to bleed into every area of our lives, this painful and exhausting and purposeful process, that is the difference between a false front and a salty life?
So we gather around the table to read the Word from the "In the beginning." We read about Adam and Eve and their bad choices. We read about how Noah made God smile. We read about things that are just so decidedly un-Christmasy. But so definitely Christly. This is His Story, which He offers us to share. It's right. But it's hard. It's got a lot of ugly. Wicked men. Evil serpent. Worldwide death. Wouldn't it be better to spend all month talking about a sweet Nativity scene? Or do we brave our way through the muck and mire of humanity's history so we can rejoice with a deeper gratitude when we celebrate the Christ-child's arrival? And so we plod on.
I'm a romantic. Even if things don't look lovely, I want to pretend that they are. But I don't think Christmas is supposed to look rosy. Personally, I think this year God is blowing the mist off of Christmas for me so I can realize and celebrate the harsh and wonderful reality of Advent. Emmanuel, God with us. The world is ugly. It's full of sin. And broken people. And sickness. And death. And our only hope is in clinging to a Savior who was willing to be born homeless in filth so that we could stand righteous in white.
And really, what is the ultimate romance? There's only one true romantic. It's our God, like a lover orchestrating a perfect proposal, weaving each event and moment of our lives to draw us into a passionate love relationship with Him. Greater love has no man than this. He's already laid down His life for me. No love greater.
So for one more day, I will turn away from the false. From the clean stable. From the clean picture of Mary. (Because I remember birth, do you?) From the smiling Bible characters. I will look to see the people. The sinners. The sacrifices. The lost waiting for their Shepherd. And I will prepare my heart to rejoice anew on Christmas Eve as we remember that He came to die so that we, the sinners, could find life and grace and mercy.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.