Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas wonderings

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
John 1:12 (NIV)

Like a pendulum swinging back and forth, my family's wanderings have taken me to and fro across the United States; Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, back to Missouri, and now, back to Pennsylvania. During this time of year, however, my wonderings transport me back to a time more than 2,000 years ago and to a fresh perspective into the events that forever altered the world.

In Windows on Christmas, Bill Crowder shares a view of wonder. He writes of the rather haunting Appalachia song "I Wonder as I Wander" and its attempt to express how difficult it is for our human hearts to understand what God chose to do, and why He chose to do it.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky, how Jesus, the Savior, did come for us to die. For poor ornery people like you and like I, I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

Wonder. I can't think of a better word to describe a miracle. Have you noticed, however, how wonder just isn't all that wonder-ful these days? From a plain white bread to Wonder undergarments to gadgets like a Wonder Weave Hairstyle Tool, somehow these things don't seem to fit the use of a word that means "surprise, astonishment, awe, amazement, admiration."

In the New Testament book of Luke, chapters 1 and 2, the gospel writer discloses a perspective of wonder. He strives to help us share in Mary's amazement at being chosen to give birth to the Christ-child, her sense of awe of her miraculous pregnancy, and an overwhelming love as she holds her child for the first time.

Can you imagine anything in Mary's young life that could have prepared her for all of this? From what we know, Mary was a normal first-century Jewish girl from an ordinary family living in an ordinary small town. Yet with wonder and obedience, she embraces the extraordinary implications of God's extraordinary plan.

Scripture doesn't record the words of Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, husband of Mary, and earthly father of Jesus. In fact, through a simple, quiet beauty of an obedient heart, Joseph works behind the scenes and almost appears invisible in the drama of Christ's birth. I wonder at how many times he stood at the crossroads of a choice between self-protection and obedience. Mary's pregnancy. Ending their betrothal. The journey to Bethlehem for a government census. Jesus' birth. Shepherds and magi bowing before a baby. The family's escape to Egypt from Herod's threats.

Facing choice after choice, Joseph's obedience teaches us that trust and obedience are inseparable. Without first trusting God, we will never surrender our choices and destinies to His purposes. If we don't obey God, we'll never see the great and humbling things He wishes to accomplish in and through our lives.

For Mary and Joseph there was wonder in these events. The wonder of who Christ is and why He came, however, are only the beginning. John 1:12 records God's promise that makes it possible for us to know Him, to find forgiveness for all our wrongdoings, to receive more than eternal life--the privilege and wonder of becoming part of His family!

Friend, I pray you discover the wonder of Christmas. May you see the marvelous reality that Christmas is not a season at all. It is a gift expressing the extent to which our loving God was willing to go to make us His own.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following


  1. My teaching topic this coming Sunday is the willing heart of Mary. Thanks for providing me with great material! :)


  2. From one servant to another, LeAnn. I'm delighted to help!

    Merry Christmas.

  3. As my husband and I both lost our jobs in November and are now once again having to move, can't even count the times. I found you this morning and CAUTION message from Girlfriends in God jumped out at me. You see that Verse is one of my favorites. I have always wanted to stencil it on the front of my porch but never has. But it is etched on my heart, as I once again trust Him to move us where He desires. I am fearful yet hopeful that He will provide and our home will sell in time so we do not lose it. I am confident that he knows the plan even though I cannot begin to see it let alone understand it. I just wanted to let you know the Lord spoke to me so loudly that He sees me and hears my cry to know He is still with through you today with my "special verse" May He bless you for your obedience in sharing what He has taught you as a Nomad. I too join you in your wanderings and I wonder at what He is yet to accomplish. In His love and grace, Joan McDonagh

  4. From one "nomad" to another, Joan, it's a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for your encouragement!

    I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. This job "stuff" is hard. But, I'm with you, friend--wandering together in wonder, let's trust Him for all we don't know because of what we do know. He is Faithful!

    Merry Christmas!