A Wonderful Mess
By Dianne Neal Matthews
I was filled with Christmas spirit as I lugged box after box down our attic stairs that December afternoon. My two youngest children began ripping open the cartons to see what was inside. Before leaving the room to do some pressing chore, I instructed them to look, but not take anything out until we were ready to use it. My plan was to trim the tree and decorate the house in an orderly, logical manner, one step at a time.
My impulsive children, however, had different plans. When I returned to the family room several minutes later, all the boxes were open and much of the contents scattered across the shag carpet. The room looked like a fully-loaded Christmas tree had exploded.
“Just look at this mess!” I scolded.
“Yes, but Mommy, isn’t it wonderful?’ an excited five-year old voice answered. “It’s a Christmas mess!”
I looked at my daughter’s wonder-filled eyes and thought back to the first Christmas. The city of Bethlehem must have been a big mess with the crowds coming to register for the census. Joseph and Mary were in a mess when they found that all the inns were full. And giving birth in a stable sounds like a messy situation, to say the least.
Yet in the midst of this chaos, a plan older than time itself began to unfold. God looked down at a world messed up by sin and knew what was needed—a Messiah. The Creator Himself physically entered our world through the supernatural birth of a tiny baby in a humble stable. And the miracle of Christmas happened—the Ancient of Days became a newborn.
Two thousand years have passed, but the world hasn’t really changed all that much. People still make a mess of things. We cause suffering for others and we suffer because of others. We seek fulfillment in anything other than the only One who offers it.
I’m so grateful that the baby in the manger has changed. Jesus grew up, lived a sinless life, then willingly suffered an excruciating death to pay for the sins of the world. After being raised to life again, He stepped back into His heavenly home where He is preparing a place for those who believe and receive Him.
Sometimes it takes the innocent wonder of a child to give us a fresh view of Christmas and point us toward what’s really important. I needed the reminder that it’s not a beautifully decorated tree or an immaculate house. It’s not hosting parties or dinners that go off without a hitch. It’s not shopping until we find the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. We truly experience Christmas when we look past the messes in our lives, gaze at the Child in the manger and recognize Him as the One who was called “Wonderful” hundreds of years before His birth by the prophet Isaiah.
So on that long-ago December afternoon, I looked at my children sitting in a sea of tangled ribbon, tinsel and garland. In spite of the mess around us, I had to agree with my daughter, “Yes, it is wonderful!”
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This Devotion is adapted from The One Year Women of the Bible with permission. (Tyndale House) © 2007 Dianne Neal Matthews
Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books. Her newest release is Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation (Baker Books). Visit her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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