That First Christmas Wasn’t Easy


Since I became a mother (almost 15 years ago), the first Christmas story has penetrated my heart in deep and intimate ways.

Because as a mom, I remember…

feeling the excitement and anticipation of the birth of my three boys,

seeing their tiny, little faces for the very first time,

hearing their voices scream out, “hello world,”

kissing their velvet soft, perfect skin little checks,

being filled with such hope for the future God has for them.

Don’t you? A mother’s heart in the 21st century, not very different from that first Christmas.

I can only assume that Mary had a mother’s heart similar to my own on that first Christmas.

And, I would have wanted to be friends with Mary, the young, highly favored, mother of the Most High King. Friends that lived life together.

By candlelight, I wonder if we would have giggled with excitement about her approaching marriage to the handsome, strong, honorable Joseph.

I wonder if she would have shared with me her miraculous pregnancy and, then, divulge her fears and concerns about the swirl of social implications.

I wonder when she returned from her relative Elizabeth’s house visibly pregnant if I would have stood proudly by her side as we walked through the market amidst hushed whispers that sizzled in the corners.

I wonder if through tears she would have confided in me her questions about the long-awaited prophecy that was growing in her belly.

I wonder if I would have hugged her tightly as she journeyed off big and pregnant with Joseph to Bethlehem for the government proclaimed census.

I wonder if we would have huddled up closely and prayed to the God of Israel to carry them safely. 

I wonder if we would have dreamed and planned and celebrated the myriad of expectations of her new life as a mom and wife and their future as a family.

I also wonder how she grappled in determined commitment with the angel’s powerful and promising words.

“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:29

You and I are privy to her future, yet unknown to her. Mary’s highly favored and blessed status wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. It brought her many difficult things:

  • Giving birth in a stable away from family with animals as her audience.
  • Fleeing from the King’s death wish on her 2 years old
  • Losing him at the temple when He was 12
  • Then, witnessing the unjust accusation and grueling murder of her Son, Jesus

Ugh. The agony of a highly favored mother’s heart.

Highly favored Mary was not spared heartache. Highly favored Mary was not spared pain, grief,or loss. Because, you see, being favored of God does not ensure comfort or a pain-free life. Instead, favor is found within the next angel’s words,

“The Lord is with you.”

Favor and grace reside in the presence of Jesus.

No matter the inconvenience.
The pain.
The loss.
The tragedy.

Immanuel. God with us* (Matthew 1:23).

This year, may we build a nest in that truth. May our goal, our focus, and our prize not rest in ease and comfort. Instead may we engage with God like never before. Like Mary did on that first Christmas.

With determined commitment like my friend Mary, may we experience the favor and grace of God through His very presence in 2017. 

Him being with me. Close. Intimate. Loving and powerful. Day by day. Week by week. Every month of this year.

Will you join me?

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished. Luke 1:45, NIV

Merry Christmas!

*portions reposted from 12/24/2013 “If Mary Were My BFF, I Wonder…”