Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but why? Is it because of the gifts? Time with family? The food? We all have different parts of this season that we love, yet sometimes we can forget about the reason we’re celebrating in the first place. I’ve heard the story of the first Christmas my whole life, but it has become more alive to me this year than ever before. It’s not that I’ve been wrapped up in all the gifts and food and everything else in the Christmas season besides Jesus. I just didn’t take the time to stop and think about all that happened that night that Jesus was born.
Let’s take a moment to think about it together. Think about how hard it would have been living at that time. There had just been 400 years of silence from God. Israel was used to prophets who relayed God’s words to the people. How hard must it have been to long to hear the words, “thus saith the Lord,” but year after year they never came. Now after 400 years, an angel of the Lord appeared unto Zacharias. The angel told him that Elisabeth would have a son, and they were to call his name John. Zacharias was also told that John would prepare the way for the Lord to come. Then, Zacharias asked the angel for a sign to confirm all that he was told. Could you blame him? After 400 years of silence, the last thing anyone expected was a visitation from an angel. Zacharias got his sign, but somehow, I doubt it was what he was expecting. The angle made him not able to speak until all that was told him came to pass.
While Zacharias and Elisabeth were waiting for the arrival of their son, the angel Gabriel came bearing a new message. Except this time, he was sent to Mary. Gabriel told Mary that she was going to bear a son, too. Only her son would be called Jesus, Emmanuel, meaning God with us. At this point, Mary must have been scared to death. Mary was a virgin. She was engaged to Joseph, but they weren’t married yet. Under the laws of their nation, Mary could have been put to death if anyone suspected she had committed adultery. The angel also told Mary that her cousin Elisabeth was expecting a son, so Mary decided to visit Elisabeth. Before Mary could say a word, Elisabeth called her blessed and “the mother of my Lord.” Oh, the excitement that must have filled Mary’s heart! Not only had Gabriel appeared unto her, but now her cousin had confirmed his words.
Now jump ahead in time. Mary is almost ready to have her baby when they get the news that they must return to their hometown to pay taxes. As Joseph and Mary begin their journey, Mary goes into labor. Reading Luke 2:6-7 makes the story seem rather simple. “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” The verses tell the story in so few words it’s like it all happened so fast. However, it was much more drawn out and difficult than it seems. Imagine you’re in Joseph’s shoes. Your wife is about to give birth to her first child on the back of a donkey. You begin to franticly search for a place to stay, but everyone turns you away. Despair is trying to grip you, but you must stay calm for Mary’s sake. Finally, you settle in a stable. It’s your last resort, and it will have to do. You know that feeling we get as kids when we’re anxiously awaiting to open gifts? We’re full of excitement and wonder! Well, multiply that by 10 and you’ll begin to understand how Joseph felt that night. And his anxiousness was over something a lot more important than a gift.
In the stable that night, the greatest gift of all was born. He is Emmanuel. This is probably my favorite name for Christ, for it shows just how faithful and loving He is. He is God with us. The God that’s with us in the midst of joy or pain. The Faithful Father who never leaves us even when we reject Him. Just think, long before you were born, before you knew you needed a Savior, even while you knew you needed to be saved but resisted it, He loved you enough to be born in a stable. He knew what you would do. He knew what it would cost to save you. He knew He would pay the ultimate price just so many could turn away and reject Him. He did it all anyway. You can’t get any more loving, kind, faithful, or amazing than that! This Christmas let’s not fail to take time to reflect on these things. If you really want, you can find a whole lot more in the first couple chapters of Luke, too.
What do you do when you feel like you are the least talented person in the world? That’s how I’ve felt my whole life, but my perspective quickly changed from a comment made by a close friend of mine. She told me, “You have a lot of talents. They may not be the talents you want, but you still have talents.” She went on to point out a couple of my talents. I’ve had people tell me I was talented before. People I really respected and looked up to. Yet I never could see it or convince myself to believe it.
What my friend told me was right. It boils down to this: I wanted to have the talents I saw all my friends had. Mostly, I wanted to be a fantastic singer. I’m not. I can carry a tune and sing on key, but I can’t find the harmony parts or do fancy runs. I’m an average singer at best, but you know what? That’s okay. For the first time in my life I stopped and realized that it is okay for me to have different talents. I love writing, drawing, graphic design, cooking, and even baking. These are things I’m good at. Am I the best? No way! But God gave me the ability to do these things and a love for them for a reason. I’m not bragging when I write this. I want you to think outside the box. What talents has God given you that you have been overlooking? Maybe you can’t sing or play an instrument. Maybe you’re horrible at art. But maybe you’re an amazing seamstress. Maybe you’re a natural at talking in front of or to others. I know someone who is a natural at counseling people. That’s a God-given talent.
My name is Amber Marshall. I graduated from Free Gospel Bible Institute in 2019. I left Bible school with an overwhelming desire to help others, but, like many, I wondered how I could. This blog is my chance to do that using my passion for writing. I pray that anything that is published on this website ministers and blesses others!