Rediscover the Wonder

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Over the past two articles, we have looked at the power of a real opportunity and a reframed identity. Next time we will focus in on the rewritten story they produce, but this week I want to focus on another story. A story of great hope in the midst of great hopelessness. A story that changed everything. The story of Christmas.

The story of Christmas is a familiar one to most. Even if only from Linus’ famous reading of the Christmas story (“…and they were sore afraid.”), the majority of people could give you give you a rundown of the basic storyline and characters. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem, look for a place to stay, but there is no room in the inn. Ending up in a stable with animals, Jesus is born and laid in a manager. Angels announce his arrival to lowly shepherds (this is where the “sore afraid” part comes in) who end up being the first visitors to the promised Savior. Does this sound familiar?

You might think my description of the birth of Jesus was a little flippant, and that is because it was. The truth is, we often think of it this way in our heads. Our familiarity with the story of Jesus’ arrival has robbed us of the wonder it should produce in our hearts and minds.

In the Gospel, or good news, as recorded by John, one of Jesus’ disciples, he describes the arrival of Jesus with these words: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:9, NIV) Instead of describing the events of that world-changing evening, John spells out the purpose and the result, and that should produce wonder.

Jesus’ arrival was no accident. It was the next step in God’s perfectly planned mission to redeem and restore the world. Without Jesus, the world was hopeless. With Jesus hopelessness became a lie. This is why Jesus is described as the “true light”. The true light of Jesus could not be put out by the brokenness and darkness of the world. Jesus’ arrival was God’s confirmation that he loves us and created us on purpose and for a purpose. Think about it: God loves you so much that sent Jesus to be born as a baby so that he could live and die to give you life. Is their a clearer picture of how valuable you are to God? In Jesus, real hope arrived for you and me.

While many plans start out with great intention only to fall short, this one could not be stopped. The hope that arrived that Christmas night was fully realized. The result of Jesus’ arrival is that hopelessness, both for today and for eternity, no longer has to have a hold on us. Do you know that about yourself? In Jesus you can wake up every day knowing there is real hope for you, even if your present circumstances are trying to convince you otherwise. You can live holding onto a hope that changes everything. Because of Christmas, you can be filled with true light.

Jesus may have arrived in relative obscurity from a human standpoint, but the impact of that moment could not be more clear to the angels who visited the shepherds that night: everything had changed. Their reaction? Great wonder. We should do the same.

As you reflect on the Christmas Story this year, rediscover the wonder produced by this world-changing moment. Let the wonder then produce life-changing hope in you. Christmas changed everything. Allow its wonder to change you.

Merry Christmas!

James Belt

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