Christmas Devotions: A Birthday Encounter

“Having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route”
(Matthew 2:12).

Seven.

My oldest daughter turns seven today.  She asked me to stop calling her “Baby girl” this week.  She seemed to think that seven year olds are too big for a nickname as embarrassingly babyish as that.

Birthdays never seem to be what my “Big girl” expects.  We take a birthday trip.  We do presents.  She shares in time with friends and family.  We sing to her.  She picks out her favorite cake (spice with cream cheese icing) and her favorite dinner (tacos or chicken and dumplings).  We celebrate her that day and she’s sheepish and sweet and content with the affection and attention.

But at night as she climbs back into bed now one year older than she was the night before, she wonders why she hasn’t grown six inches.  Why, if she’s now seven years old, is she still wearing some 6X clothing?

Somehow my girl thinks an annual encounter with a birthday candle should provide immediate change.  It’s a fairy dust *poof* over her head and she’s insta-bigger and more mature.

I can’t say how these things happen.  I remember so clearly the night nurse bringing my newborn into my room at 3 a.m. a year ago to the day.  She was screaming inconsolably.  Didn’t want to cuddle.  Didn’t want food.  Just needed to scream in protest for a bit.  I looked up at the nurse with the fear of a brand new mom and asked, “What should I do?”  She shook her head at me and said, “I don’t know!”  Then she walked out leaving me with Victoria, still screaming at the top of her lungs.

She was strong from the beginning.  Sure of herself, demanding of others.  Determined.  Sensitive and full of big emotions that just didn’t fit all bottled up and contained in a little body.

I remember her crawling, walking, talking, reading, dancing, and her first day of preschool and kindergarten and first grade.  Her love of horses, princesses, tea parties, arts and crafts, sparkles, and dancing and the mystery she is to me.

And yet, I can’t say when she grew up.  I can’t look at circles on the calendar and see the moment she was an infant and not a newborn.  The day I saw her as a toddler.  The moment she was a little girl.  Or how she became this big girl with long flowing blond hair and a tall, thin frame like a ballerina.

When does change happen?

When does change occur for us?

Surely we have that immediate moment of course redirection when we first choose to worship Jesus.  Paul describes it this way: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

One encounter with Jesus was enough to change the Magi’s travel plans also.

They had come from the east to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1).

Their Messiah pursuit wasn’t popular.  It disturbed King Herod and “all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:3).

Undeterred, the wise men followed the star and found the newborn Christ.  They were overjoyed, bowed down and worshiped him, presenting the gifts they had carefully toted along on their journey.

They met Jesus.  They saw the Messiah.  They encountered God in human flesh.

Then, “having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” (Matthew 2:12).

It was a practical decision for them.  To trick King Herod, they slipped quietly out of the country and avoided another meeting with this evil earthly king bent on Jesus’ destruction.

It’s spiritual for us.  We meet Jesus and then we can’t go back the same way we came.  We have to follow “another route.”

Nor is this a one-time course correction for us.  Just like my birthday girl who doesn’t magically morph into an older child at each birthday, so we change gradually.  There’s the initial moment of commitment to Christ, when we worship, bow down, and offer Him our hearts and lives.  We are a new creation.

Then there are seasons of growth spurts as God performs focused work on our character. Intense encounters with God cause us to drastically change course, when Scripture sears our heart, when a life lesson digs deep in our soul.  We have an unmistakable moment of revelation and heart remodeling.

At other times, the change is slow and daily as we shed layers and layers of flesh.  It’s so gradual we can’t always see it until someone sees the change in us.

They see how we react differently now.  How our words are seasoned with grace.  How people have become our primary heart motivation.  How our hearts are broken for the lost. They see that the faith we profess now impacts our motivation and activity.

It’s the change God is working in our hearts, just as Paul said: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

But the ever-increasing transformation in us requires us to drop the veil from our faces and “contemplate the Lord’s glory.”  Like the Magi saw Jesus after their relentless, focused, studious search for Him, we have to seek God in order to see God.

That’s our task, to “look for God like the watchmen looks for the morning” (Psalm 130:6).  We search.  We find Him.  We adjust our course to follow Him.  That’s how change happens.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

3 thoughts on “Christmas Devotions: A Birthday Encounter

  1. Kathleen says:

    I remember when I was seven. I clearly remember thinking I was a big deal; that I had it all together and that my mother was out of touch. Yes, at seven. My mother and I are the same number of years apart as my oldest and I. So, when he turned seven, I thought back to when I was that age. I couldn’t believe the attitude I had at that age and that surely Thomas couldn’t view me as I viewed my mom. Man, was it an eye opening experience. Quite humbling; even if it did come twenty-one years too late.

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