Do you have a December birthday? If you do, you may feel as I often do around this time of year, a bit overlooked. In the hustle and bustle of the baking, shopping, planning and parties, friends and even relatives forget it’s your birthday. I was fending off the self-pity, that I’m ashamed to admit popped up its ugly head this morning, when the Lord graciously and lovingly directed my thoughts elsewhere.
As I prayed to my Father-God to help me to feel in my heart what I knew in my head about His great love for me, I began to recall from the Scriptures the ways in which God has shown His love for me. My mind wasn’t drawn at once to the scene above, God’s truest demonstration of love – His incarnation followed by His sacrificial death and resurrection. Instead, I began to thank Him for my family, especially my children. They are grown now and live mostly out of our home. Nevertheless, through the years they have been a wonderful example of unconditional love to me. As I thanked God for their love, I recalled the years when they were very young and constantly wanted to be near me. I loved holding them close while they slept, feeding them in my arms, and being the one they ran to for comfort. While I loved them, they ministered love to my own heart.
Amazingly, but not surprisingly, God turned my inward focus outward, I thought about the manger scene. After the scandal of pregnancy out-of-wedlock, the disgrace of the reputation of both herself and the man who accepted her hand, the inevitable gossip and perhaps the disbelief of her parents of her innocence, the trek across the nation, labor in a foreign land without her mother, delivery in a stall on the ground, did she feel sorry for herself?
Did the miracle of childbirth and glory of holding that small child in her arms the first time wash all other thoughts away? I wonder if the birth and infancy of Jesus brought her the same wonderful, satisfying sensation of being loved and needed by a child I have felt. Was her experience even more than I can imagine? Did the author of love, love his mother with a truer, purer love than our own children will ever be capable of imitating? When she comforted Jesus, was she comforted? When she met His needs, did her heart swell with a fulfillment we will never know? Did His perfect love, cast out all of her fears?
Jesus’ birthday was the inauguration of God’s personal demonstration of His love for us. He did not come as a judge, although many think of Him as judging them. He did not come as a conqueror, although many assume that He came to avenge. He did not even come as a celebrity, although the angels and the wise acknowledged His birth, it was otherwise overlooked. God chose to show us the ‘radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature’ in a baby born in obscurity and a young man crucified with contempt. He lived a life of purity, love, and self-sacrifice, and willingly took the punishment, which meant His death, for the transgressions of all – mine and yours. This great love of God came into the world ready to embrace, ready to forgive, ready to love us, in spite of our selfish obsession.
As I lifted my head and put down my pen, I asked for forgiveness from the God who loved me at such great cost to Himself. God in His wonderful gracious loving-kindness, gave me a revelation (that may not seem enlightening to you but has altered my attitude this morning). I realized that the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Christmas, is all about Him, and yet it is really all about us, about me. I have not been overlooked, my significance has not been overshadowed. At a point and time in history, God took on human form to show us just how much He thought about us, how much He loves us, how much He is willing to sacrifice on our behalf, how much we mean to Him.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”(John 3:16-17)
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”(Romans 5:8)
“An angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.'” (Luke 2:9-14)
Perhaps, if you, like me, have a December birthday, we should consider God’s greatest gift to the world in the person of Jesus Christ, a birthday present.