How easily we can miss the significance of the choice God made to humble Himself and choose to come to earth in human flesh to show us what mankind had been missing for thousands of years about how great was his love, grace, and mercy. Somehow, we think of it at Easter on the cross as He hung there without considering what is beyond our imagination to consider about his choice to come to earth as a baby in the humblest of places.
The nativity scenes we set up during the season of Advent are so pristine compared to the reality of that manger where Mary and Joseph first laid Him. Any farmer would tell you in vivid detail the sounds and smells that would have surrounded them. Stables smelled of hay and straw (both old and new) and of the dirty stalls of the animals that spent time there. Dust was everywhere. It was not pretty or clean.
How like Him to come into the mess of such a place! He comes into the mess of our lives and chooses to live within us when we accept Him.
It wasn’t just on the cross that He showed his love in his humility. But none of us mortals are very good at humility if we’re gut-wrenchingly honest.
“Humility looks like caring for others more than we care about ourselves. It is looking beyond ourselves and recognizing the beauty around us. Humility keeps the spotlight on Jesus. When we shine it on ourselves, it reflects the flaws and messiness that Jesus has already redeemed through His death on the cross.”Mary Geisen in The Advent Narrative
Perhaps our struggle with humility is not only about pride, but our unwon battle with selfishness that requires us to lay down our lives for others as Jesus so clearly showed us and still shows us each day. Maybe we don’t spend enough time looking in the mirror of the Word and seeing ourselves as accurately or clearly as we ought.
Over and over again humility is the convicting message of that first Advent. It was the manger, the humblest of parents chosen to be the earthly parents of Jesus, and it was the shepherds who were considered lowly in that culture who were first blessed to hear the news and see this babe in the manger who had come to save them. Consider who God honored with this privilege we read about – shepherds of all people, not the religious leaders of the day, not the chief rabbi of the town – shepherds.
This Advent that may seem constricted gives us space to make room for Him in our hearts and enter into the scene more deeply and personally, to finally grasp just a bit more than we have had time for other years when we were out doing more, busier with the seasonal traditions we loved. It can serve as a time to consider with greater anticipation the Second Advent yet to come and where we are in that journey.
“A life worth living takes us on a journey of preparing well. But it is not just the preparation and awakening of our hearts. God leads us through the “not yet” as a challenge and call to let Him dive deep into our very core. He wants our faith to look like the roller coaster ride that we hold onto for dear life because we don’t know what else to do. It is wondering and believing for more. It is saying “yes” when we prefer the “no.” God knows, and whether the path feels comfortable and familiar or takes us off road on the adventure of our lives, He is with us in every step forward and backward.”Mary Geisen in The Advent Narrative
This year when we are less busy is perhaps when we ought to remove the masks we can often wear when we spend time with the Lord, the masks that we foolishly use to be less honest and real with Him than He deserves or that we need to be in order to lead a more sanctified and holy life. That would be humility.
“The first requirement in a personal relationship is to be ourselves. Off with the masks. Away with the pretense.”Eugene Peterson in Run with the Horses
This Advent season of 2020 is not without hope, not without promise. If it seems that way, where are we looking? The smelly dusty manger in the midst of a world ruled by the Roman Empire should adjust our perspective if we pause to really see it and enter into the story behind the scene our nativity sets depict.
“The best part of our God-driven stories is the hope that is ours every step of the way. It is ultimately the desire to end up at the manger to see Jesus and the gifts He left there for me and you. Max Lucado says it like this: “The path marked Humility will take you to the manger of the Messiah.”Mary Geisen in The Advent Narrative
The lowly shepherds became the first eyewitnesses of what God was doing. God has not stopped the story, his story, and we are eyewitnesses to what He is doing now in big and small things. We are part of the story.
How will we spread the word and share the story so that no one will miss the Second Advent because we were asleep or silent?
12 thoughts on “What A Choice!”
This is a clear, beautiful post. I want to thank you for all the love and insight that you put into all your posts. You often use great quotes from Eugene Peterson in Run with the Horses. It influenced us to buy it and my husband and I read a chapter a day each morning. We are enjoying it immensely.
May the Lord bless you and your loved ones at this Christmas time as we reflect on the meaning of the first Christmas. Looking forward to more posts in 2021. Blogger’s Pit Stop revs up on January 8th.
Kathleen, you honor and humble me with your kind words. I am so glad the book has blessed you and your husband. I seek to always be reading something that instructs, informs, and inspires me as I seek the Lord each time I write that He would speak through the words.
It has been a tough year for so many and our family as well. Our son was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent 6 rounds of chemo and my husband has had several surgeries that were unexpected. Even so, the Lord has stood with us and the community of those who gather in community around our blog sites never fail to bring encouragement along the way.
Have a blessed Christmas and I will look forward to your return in January.
Sola Dei Gloria,
What an absolutely beautiful post you have written. Something to think about and something to keep in our hearts, and yet is it a question from the Lord or is it a question? Is it a question from our own hearts and minds that we are looking for the answer or questions our Lord Jesus Christ to put our affairs in order because they are so messed up? I don’t know these answers, but I do know that if we are not forgiving we will no longer be forgiven by the Lord. We must ask ourselves these questions mostly and pray. Pray like we never have before. Amen
Thanks again. Yes, I believe He wants us to draw closer to Him than ever and to seek Him and be quiet in His presence to hear Him.
Thank you, Pam for this heart felt post! Humility is something we tend to shrink from, but so very necessary! Love the quote from Mary’s book-such a good read!
Thanks so much, Donna! Mary’s book is a very good read💕
Beautiful, Pam! Thank you for so generously including quotes from my book during this Advent season.
You’re most welcome! A number of folks have asked about your book and I encouraged them to check it out♥️
That’s awesome! Thank you.
Absolutely! It’s a great book and I also recall what it meant to have others suggest they pick up a copy of my book two years ago. Writing a book is a joy and a chore and then promoting it to sell is that all over again as you hope what you felt led to write and poured your heart into will somehow be used by the Lord as a blessing.
Thanks for this loving and wise invitation, Pam …