Losing, Looking, Seeking and Finding Christ this Christmas

Who knew at least 25% of my life as a mom would be looking for other people’s stuff?

One day you hold  a beautiful  infant in your arms and 12 years later,  you’re answering an endless stream of the same-old, same-old questions.

“Mom, have you seen….?”

“Mom, where did YOU put….” (Because obviously you must have moved it.)

“Mom,where’s my….?”

Today alone, I have already found a costume piece, a missing outfit, and a pair of shoes.  Plus, I am engaged in an ongoing hunt for a dress that  apparently walked out of a closet.

Earlier this week, I sat at the kitchen table helping one daughter with schoolwork while another daughter frantically huffed around the house.

She shuffled papers on the piano.  She tossed books around in the book bin.  She slammed desk drawers and closet doors.

I prodded her with a few standard investigative questions.  “Where did you last have it?  When was the last time you saw it?”

She just knew she put it on the piano, 100% absolutely sure . Someone must have moved it.

I let her search while I doggedly continued the study session with my other kid.  Finally, though, I looked up at this increasingly stressed child  and said, “I feel like I saw you fold that paper up into a square as we headed out the door somewhere.  Maybe in your coat pocket?   Maybe in your Bible?

Ding ding ding!

I carried that victory around as a moment  of superior Mom-ness.  Finding something without even getting up to look, that is worth serious parental points right there.

Hunting and finding.  Searching and seeking.  Looking and tracking.

This Mom-life has made me watchful and aware, and maybe that’s more than just a good Mom-skill.  Maybe that’s a heart-skill we need, especially at Christmas.

Because, right there in the busiest of seasons, if we stop being watchful and aware, we can miss out on Christ right in the middle  of Christmas.

The shepherds looked up on that holy night.  As the angels crowded into the night sky, the shepherds could have run in fear, cowered into rock crevices, hid their faces, and waited for life to return to normal so they could get back to watching those good-old sheep.

Instead, they looked up.   They listened.  They watched their flocks by night and they watched the angels worship, and they pursued the Savior.  They had to leave those Bethlehem hills and follow the instructions they’d been given.  A manger.  Swaddling clothes.  This baby.  Christ the Lord.

The wise men looked up, too.  They watched the night sky, they studied the stars.  They dug deep into ancient texts and lived in awareness.

Then, instead of shrugging off an anomaly among the stars, they packed up belongings, kissed loved ones goodbye, and set off on a journey to who knows where to find really who knows what.

They were searchers, seekers, treasure hunters, and they were finders.

Then there’s Simeon, who waited in the temple to see the Messiah.  He watched as people filed in and out, families coming for festivals, couples carrying babies to be dedicated.

He saw the One he’d been waiting for all because he kept his eyes open.  He looked and kept looking and never gave up looking until a poor carpenter walked in with a young bride who carried in her arms a baby named Jesus.

Shepherds.  Wise Men.  Simeon.

They all lived watchfully.

Others missed out.  When those wise men arrived in Jerusalem and asked King Herod about this one who was born “King of the Jews,” he called for religious scholars to fill in the blanks.  They knew the prophecy.  The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

But they didn’t go.  They shrugged off the visit from these foreign seekers and stayed right where they were, pursuing their own religious agendas, doing all of the holy things, and yet MISSING it, MISSING Him.

Max Lucado writes,
“They reported to Herod that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  Did they not read the prophecy?  Yes, but they did not respond to it.  You’d think at a minimum they would have accompanied the magi to Bethlehem.  The village was near enough.  The risk was small enough.  At worst they would be out the effort.  At best they would see the fulfillment of prophecy.  But the priests showed no interest” (Because of Bethlehem p. 78).

During this holy season, how can we choose the better thing, to be aware of God on the move?

How can we wake each day with watchful anticipation, asking God to let us see Him?  To not miss Him?  To go where He is and to worship Him right there?

Let’s look and let’s listen and live watchfully, so we can see Jesus and we can worship.

Christmas means God on the move

christmas15

Today, I plunked down $0.88 for a new address book.

Then, I laid its 13-year-old, well-worn predecessor to rest.

It was time.

In that old address book, I have crossed out.  I have drawn arrows.  I have swirled over old addresses and entered in new.  I have stuffed envelopes with corrected info into the pages.

This year during ‘Operation Christmas Cards,’ I flipped through that edited mess.  Seven more family members moved this year to new homes in new places.

Most of these are happy moves: The new-job, new-marriage, new-baby kind of celebration.

Others are moves of in-between, of change, of loss and sadness and finding new hope for the future.

Since I have an intense dislike, maybe even horror, of writing in pencil, though, I can’t just erase and start afresh at each new life event.

That’s when I realized the truth.  It wasn’t time for more corrections.  It was time for a completely fresh shart.

It was time to move on.

And it strikes me right at that moment as I fill in the blank pages A-Z, surrounded by Christmas decorations and Christmas cards, that Christmas itself is about moving.

God began that progress, journeying to us:

God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9 HCSB).

He makes the first move.  He steps into the void we can’t breach, the abyss of sin we can’t possibly cross, and He leaves the glory of heaven for our sake.

Jesus isn’t the only One who moved that first Christmas, though.

“The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth” (Luke 1:26).

Mary and Joseph loaded up the donkey and trekked slowly “from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the City of David, which is called Bethlehem” (Luke 2:4 HCSB).

The angels arrived on the hillside to announce the Savior’s birth to shepherds and then “left them and returned to heaven” (Luke 2:15 HCSB).

Then, those shepherds in their excitement said, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened” (Luke 2:15 HCSB).

Days later, a man named Simeon was guided by the Spirit and went straight to a GOd-appointed place:  “he entered the temple complex” (Luke 2:27 HCSB).

Wise men from the east searched the night sky and could no longer remain at home, complacent, apathetic, mildly interested but not engaged when they saw the mysterious star.

No, they moved.

They committed to the journey, packing camels, loading supplies, asking questions.

They must have left so much  behind:  Family, possessions, homes, a culture they knew and friends they loved.  Maybe they left position and power in the dust in order to arrive in a foreign land as strangers and outsiders searching for a King they couldn’t describe whose name they didn’t know.

Where were they going?  They did not know.  When would their journey end?  They could not say.

Just like Abram long before, the Magi left their homes to travel to an unknown destination for an uncertain amount of time.

Friends must have called them crazy.  Family might have questioned their sanity.

Yet, they kept moving because a star “led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was ” (Matthew 2:9 HCSB).

Christmas is about the faith of movement, about faith in action.  No standing still.  No remaining the same.  No stubbornly refusing to leave the old in pursuit of God’s work anew.

In a season steeped in tradition, God shows us that He can do the surprising and unexpected.  He is at work.  He is in motion.

Christmas is angels and shepherds, sages and a teenage girl, the righteous and the ordinary, all abandoning their plans, agendas, comfort, and homes, leaving it all behind so they would not miss what God was doing.

Are we so willing to move?

When God calls, when He is active, when He is at work and He comes to us, will we also go to Him?

I’ve finished filling this new address book now and for a while at least everything is settled and set.

Yet, I’m hushed with expectancy.  I’m at the feet of Christ with anticipation.  I’m asking the question and I’m silent, breathlessly waiting for the answer He gives:

“God, what are you doing and how can I be there?  I don’t want to miss it by refusing to move when you move. Lead me this Christmas.”

 

 

Why I’m Serving Up Spaghetti and Brownies for Three Kings’ Day

I’m slipping ornaments and lights into Rubbermaid containers and packing the Christmas village into Styrofoam and cardboard today.

On the kitchen table, though, I place the three wise men from our nativity scene.

They aren’t glass or hand-carved from precious olive wood.  I have four kids, after all.

Instead, they are three little plastic figures that my daughters have been playing with for five Christmases at least, reenacting the birth story of Jesus with unbreakable Nativity toys.

Tonight, the wise men take center stage.006

My middle daughter announced this year that we should celebrate Three Kings’ Day on January 6th.  That it was important.  Necessary even.

She instructed us:

  1. We must leave our Christmas decorations up until then.
  2. We must have a special dinner with a special kingly treat.

I tried to ignore the pleading at first and then made futile attempts to explain that since January 6th was the day we return to the insane schedule we call everyday life, that perhaps we could skip Three Kings’ Day.

But no.

I did what any mom might do after that.  I Googled it and Pinterest searched and Facebook asked about how to make this happen.

I read about traditional dishes like “pickled cabbage leaves stuffed with grouts drizzled with water and sauerkraut juice, ” “broccoli accompanied by crostini with chicken liver pate” and “stuffed ravioli with rich duck or rabbit ragu.”

I’m not loving this holiday.

But a friend speaks truth to me.  It’s not about the menu.  It’s about the family time and the celebration.

So, I let my daughter plan the feast: Spaghetti with King’s Hawaiian bread and brownies.

Slowly, this Three Kings’ Day or Feast of Epiphany captivates me as we celebrate men who abandoned it all to seek truth—to seek Christ.

I read that it’s not just the celebration of “three kings,” but the rejoicing in the Epiphany, the humanity of Christ, God in flesh. It’s the reminder that He’s not a cold and impersonal deity too far out of photo by Ruud Morijn reach to care about the passions of my day-to-day heart.

He’s God come near.

God bent low.

God of compassion, who knows what it’s like to be hungry, tired, hurt, broken, sad, joyful, loved, and hated.

And I marvel at the magnitude of this, that when God’s infant Son cried out in a hay-filled manger, right there at the beginning of the salvation story, God sent the birth announcements to the whole world.

Not just to the Bethlehem natives.  Not to the religious elite or the most righteous among them.  Not even just to Jewish shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night.

For God so loved the world….

The whole world.

He sent a Messiah to the Jewish nation, but then announced redemption for us all with a star that Gentile sages could see and follow to find their Savior, as well.

These men, these watchers-of-the-sky, not so much kings as bookworms, as astronomers, as students and sages, they remind me to pursue the presence of Christ.

How long had they been seeking?  They knew the prophecies, knew that a Messiah would come, knew where He would be born.

They knew when they saw that star in the sky that God was at work.

How hard it must have been to explain to wives, to family, to employers, to friends, to the people in their hometown that they needed to journey far in pursuit of a newborn King.

Sometimes I’ve imagined them following a star without really knowing why, without knowing what it could mean or where it would take them. Yet, when they arrived in Jerusalem, they pestered Herod with questions:

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2).

They couldn’t understand why everyone else could continue on life as usual when they were willing to rock their entire lives in radical pursuit of the Messiah.  It was so clear to them.  So simple.

See the star.
Follow it.
Find the Savior.
Worship Him.

Reality, though, can complicate the simple too often.  Life gets busy.  Radical seems too hard.  Maybe the journey will cost too much.  Perhaps I forget along the way whatever it was I was seeking to begin with.

Or maybe I’m too busy and distracted to seek at all.

The wise men saw that star because they were actively looking.  Too often, I’m missing God’s presence because I’m not bothering to look.

But I’m reminded tonight that God comes near and wise men seek Him.

Tonight I celebrate these magi who pursued the presence of Christ with wild abandon and focused determination. And I celebrate the God who promised this:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV).

Have you ever celebrated Three King’s Day?  How do you make it special?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer 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.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!
To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King