Mom! Can we wake him up? Please? It’s after 9. We’ve been up for hours. That little brat does this every year. It’s just not fair!!!
The little one (referenced above) just so happens to be the youngest of my three kids.
It was Christmas morning and, yes, the little one is still sleep. Nothing new for us. Not even presents nestled under the tree are a catalyst to get him to wake up early. Mornings were not his thing back then. And if we were all going to enjoy the day it was imperative that this little guy wake up on his own. Rest was essential and synonymous to peace for our family at least on that day.
The kids knew that no presents could be open until we acknowledged the reason for the season and all three of them needed to be present. No pun intended. Hence, the reason the two older ones were beside themselves on this and for that matter every Christmas morning once their little brother came along.
I became a Christian in between the birth of my second and third child. I remember struggling with how to make sure that my kids were persuaded of the TRUTH. It was important to me that every time Christmas rolled around they would know the reason for the season. The Christmas message to me was quite simple to convey. Jesus. Born a babe in a manger. In a not so perfect world. Sent by a loving God. For whosoever shall believe, that is, trust in and place full confidence in and rest upon faith in Jesus and HIS story shall have everlasting life.
So, in our home, Christmas morning began with one of the kids reading about Jesus. When they were little they read from their Children’s Bible. As they grew older, they decided who would read and they were allowed to pick what would be read and the message conveyed. They knew presents were exchanged as our way of celebrating the birth of Christ. Our Savior.
In looking back, I realized that although the two older ones were fit to be tied by time the little one opened his eyes and decided to bless us with his presence, once we began our Jesus party, if you will, all was well. Until next Christmas morning that is.
During this season of heightened believing, with so many messages broadcast, some quite deceiving, take time to accept the ONE worth receiving. Jesus.
Be Strengthened and Encouraged in HIM,
For God so loved the world that HE gave HIS one and only Son, that whoever believes in HIM shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
It was that time of the year again. Labor Day weekend. The time where we start gathering our camping equipment and making our way to Autryville, North Carolina to Auntie and Uncles abode. Uncle would clear about an acre of land for us in the back. Each year we looked forward to our camping adventure. Throughout the month’s prior, the anticipation amongst those who might attend continued to swell. The event has drawn family and friends from the north, south, east and west. I kid you not.
My husband liked to arrive early so he can claim his territory. A great time is guaranteed. The weekend is filled with games, stories, laughter, bonfires and good food. Fun times are had by all. We leave exhausted but ready to do it again the very next year. For me, it is a once a year escapade with nature. It’s about all I can stand.
Now this one particular year, I remember standing around shooting the breeze with two of the ‘funnest’ ladies I know. No, I don’t know if that is really a word but it best describes these two. When the three of us get together we talk and laugh and they are two that I can just be real with. No watching my words. No tip toeing around subjects. They know me and they know my heart. I consider them both close friends. My two girls fictitious names are Soldier Girl and the other TeaTimer.
I don’t remember the specifics the three of us were discussing on this day as we stood around. Most likely we were talking about our significant others. Oh, I forgot to tell you the three of them are brothers. And when they get together, for the weekend adventure, it’s like a campground full of elevated testosterone. It’s non-stop entertainment all weekend.
So, in the midst of us jaw jabbing, out of nowhere Soldier Girl starts jumping around like she is doing a new form of jumping jacks. Her arms are swinging in the air and she is jumping up and down screaming. Me and TeaTimer thought something attacked her. I looked around thinking maybe she saw a snake or some big bug landed on her since her hands were waving all over the place and her jumps high like a frog. As I’m looking up and down and all around and fear is rising up in me, too, I begin to ask Soldier Girl, “What? What? What?" And I kid you not she screams, “A butterfly!”
I am thinking did she say butterfly? She is literally just about in tears and fear has gripped her. I could not help myself but I busted out laughing and just couldn’t stop. I had one of those gut-wrenching, tear dropping, uncontrollable belly laughs. A butterfly? I thought. You lost your mind over a butterfly? Lo and behold, she is petrified of butterflies. Who would’ve thought. To me and TeaTimer it was one of the funniest things. We still joke about it to this day.
Imagine that! Afraid of butterflies. When I asked my friend why she is so scared she said it’s all the colors. My friend is not at peace with all of the colors.
Ever see a bunch of caterpillars in the cocoon. They are called tent caterpillars. Now, they give me the creeps. I hate even walking near a tree that has them. I always think the cocoon is going to burst and all those caterpillars will be all over me. Now, that would cause me to look as if I lost my mind. But a butterfly?
So, let’s take a deeper look at butterflies.
Now, we all know that butterflies don’t start out all that colorful. I won’t bore you with the intricacies but the short and sweet is they start off as an egg which hatches to a caterpillar then grows a covering and then sheds it to become a butterfly. It’s a process.
What I found fascinating is that in order for a butterfly to fly it has to pump blood into its wings. The blood gets the wings working and flapping. The butterfly hangs upside-down and pumps blood into the wings to inflate them. It must wait for the wings to dry before it can fly and then it takes practice. No, they don’t fly gracefully right away. And the blood is critical to setting them free.
So many things can prevent the maturity of a butterfly. So many factors which can stop the butterfly from reaching its full potential. The eggs can get eaten or the egg never hatch or the blood doesn’t pump. Just to name a few.
Interesting, huh? And it made me think of my Christian walk. Contrary to some folks belief we are not born “again” perfect.
We, like a butterfly, go through a process to reach our full potential. We feed (on the Word of God) and the more we feed the more we grow as we walk out our journey and continue to move forward soaring to new heights.
We aren’t graceful in the beginning. Well, okay. I will speak for myself here. I definitely wasn’t and still occasionally bump my head here and there. Some days more often than not.
The best part of Christianity, for me, is we are free because of the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ shed for you and for me. The blood is so critical to setting us free. Without the blood, like the butterfly, we would never be free. We would never be able to soar to the heights that God has called us to. We would never be able to fly (hypothetically) to reach our God given potential.
My friend may not have peace with the colors of a butterfly but thank God she has peace through Jesus. HIS blood shed on the cross.
The blood. Such an integral part of the journey to becoming a butterfly. The blood. Such an integral part of the journey to be free in Christ.
Be Strengthened and Encouraged in HIM,
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV
Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. John 8:32
Say to the Daughter of Zion [inhabitants of Jerusalem], Behold, your KING is coming to you, lowly and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey [a beast of burden]. Matthew 21:5 AMP
At one point in Jesus journey, HE is riding on a beast of burden. A draught animal created or one could say purposed to carry or pull heavy loads. Said to be a hardy animal in that they can survive much: extreme temperatures, poor diet, lack of water and neglect would be the shortlist.
The one purposed to carry heavy loads carrying ONE purposed to do the same. The one purposed to survive much carrying ONE who survived it all.
Our KING came in riding on a beast of burden with the weight of the world on HIS shoulders.
A humble ONE from birth walking out HIS call
Totally qualified to handle it all
Born in a manger with no flash or glam
Jesus. Redeemer. Sacrificial LAMB
HIS fabric of life, peculiar? You bet
KING of Kings yet
God’s love for us caused HIM to give
The birth of our Savior that we might live
Jesus lived so humbly and full of grace
Come, HE calls, to our resting place
Oh, how could it be? The wonder of HIS birth
ONE born to rule heaven and earth
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways
Beyond our understanding. Never ceases to amaze.
Be Strengthened and Encouraged in HIM,
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; HE does great things beyond our understanding. Job 37:5 NIV
For to us a CHILD is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on HIS shoulders. And HE will be called wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace… Isaiah 9:6 NIV
Over the past few years, a new craze has begun. It’s a way to announce the sex of the unborn child. It’s called Gender Reveal. Sometimes invitations are sent out. Sometimes parties are planned. Sometimes it’s a dinner with family and friends.
Imagine if Mary and Joseph had a Gender Reveal party for Jesus. The invitations might read: King or Queen. What will baby be? Come one. Come all. And we shall see.
I imagine Joseph carefully architecting board game pieces that when they come together would provide the clue. A picture of a KING’s crown of thorns maybe?
I imagine Joseph and Mary inviting Elizabeth and Zachariah. Imagine Elizabeth is ready to deliver any day now. Joseph and Mary take turns reading little known facts that have already been revealed about the CHILD to come. Each time they read one the baby inside Elizabeth noticeably leaps for joy.
Imagine some of the TRUTHs read:
Son of God…
HE will be great (eminent)…
HE will be called the Son of the Most High…
The LORD God will give to HIM the throne of HIS forefather David…
HE will reign over the house of Jacob throughout the ages…
And of HIS reign there will be no end…
HIS Name shall be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of eternity],
Prince of Peace…
HE shall be called Immanuel (God with us)…
Of the increase of HIS government and of peace there shall be no end…
And imagine the reaction of some of the friends and family members as they hear the TRUTHs.
“Did she say Son of God? Hmmm. Yeah, right! Mary must have been drinking from the wrong punch bowl” might be heard uttered as those around laugh. Women might be seen covering their mouths with their hands while simultaneously shaking their heads signifying sheer disapproval. Men might be seen rolling their eyes with the same look of disbelief.
Imagine Zachariah going around at the reveal with a piece of wood with just one word carved in it. The one word engraved maybe written two or three times on the piece of wood. Zachariah might start off walking around the party attendees with the sign held high over his head so everyone can see it. Imagine his reaction as he begins to hear the mumbling of disbelief intensifying from family and friends. He might become more emphatic in his display. He might begin to take his sign and blatantly shove it in peoples faces as tears run down his face. The word engraved? BELIEVE!
And imagine the final announcement by Joseph:
King is right. King Jesus HE shall be. Best reveal ever. Just wait and see.
Be Strengthened and Encouraged in HIM,
The person who has MY commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves ME; and whoever [really] loves ME will be loved by MY Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) MYSELF to him. [I will let MYSELF be clearly seen by him and make MYSELF real to him]. John 14:21 AMPC