“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2:16-18)
“Blog” sounds like something you stepped in and stuck to your shoe. But it’s the best I got. The best way I know to “spread the word” about what I found, what I’ve seen and heard, but mostly about what I’ve experienced since I made my way “to the manger.”
I was raised in a “Christian” family, which, in the 50’s mostly meant we went to church every week because that’s what everybody did. My folks believed in Jesus in much the same way they believed in Santa Claus.
(spoiler alert: Virginia, you might want to stop reading)
They pretended to believe in Santa, just like everyone else believed in Santa, because, if they did, it made Christmas nicer. Trouble was, they also had to act on Santa’s behalf to make him seem real. Santa’s bills showed up in their mail. They took the same approach with Jesus. “We know He wasn’t really any different than you and me, but He sure said some wonderful things in the Sermon on the Mount.” My dad, who was an elder at the church for years, eventually told me he didn’t believe Jesus was ever really a person – just a myth that had developed over the years to help people get through life better. Consequently, he also believed it was up to him to measure up to all the moral standards, to make Jesus seem real in his life.
Remember when you discovered that Santa was a lie that everyone else was in on except you? That’s how I felt about Jesus when I began to discover how skin deep faith was for most of the people I had grown up trusting. I resolved to never, ever again buy into any religion or myth. I hated the idea of playing “let’s pretend” in real life.
About the time I turned 38, I began to feel a steady pull to draw closer to God, even though I did not believe in Him. A series of weird, seemingly coincidental experiences heightened this desire. Also heightened was my determination to not be fooled. But one day these two contradictory impulses came to a head. Jesus showed me Who He was. If you had been there you would not have seen Him. But for me to describe the events of that day in a lesser way would be dishonest. One day, I too found myself kneeling at the manger – figuratively speaking. I discovered Jesus and surrendered to Him, because I knew He was God.
I had no idea what to expect. Best way to describe it is that I became alive in a way I had never known was possible. The line from Amazing Grace, “was blind but now I see” is a pretty good description. And Jesus began to live in me, making gradual, steady changes in how I saw life and how I responded in life. He is doing it, not me. This new life is exhilarating and is still growing, almost 30 years later.
The shepherds stumbled out of town, grabbing anyone they met to try to tell them how excited they were. No doubt most of those people thought they being accosted by drunks or madmen. But they had to do it; they couldn’t keep silent about such good news. Me? I blog. Merry Christmas.
Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.