Nine long months. Nine months of sleepless nights, mornings not feeling well, and being tired all the time. For Mary, it must have felt like an eternity. It must’ve been a difficult pregnancy for sure—one that began with the most unlikely of stories (“Really? You’re pregnant but a virgin?”) and ended with a grueling 90-mile trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem through some really rough terrain. By the time Mary arrived in Bethlehem, I imagine she was mumbling some things that didn’t quite get recorded in the biblical narrative. She had to have been exhausted, she had to have been hurting, she had to have been DONE with this pregnancy!
And so, when the time came for her to give birth, she had to have been relieved. Finally, she could put this difficult time behind her, the end was in sight.
Or was it? As every new parent soon realizes, birth may be the end of one chapter, but it is also the beginning of another. A new chapter with its own set of challenges, but also, its own set of joys. A new chapter with a chance to start over, to do some things differently, to do some things better. New chapters are great! And new chapters are what the Christmas story is all about!
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing!”
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
Simply put, the Bible is a story, a narrative. It’s the true story of God’s relationship with his creation. And within that story, there are many chapters. Each chapter represents a sort of starting line and finish line. The birth of Jesus ushered in a new chapter in God’s story with humanity. This chapter would too have a “finish line” (the Cross), which would begin a whole new chapter.
Our lives are stories filled with many chapters. Some chapters are more pleasant than others, but they all add up to tell a story, our story. And this story is like a journey. But this journey isn’t just a single starting point and destination. Rather, it’s filled with many starting points and many destinations along the way. Each of these starting/destination points represent chapters in our lives. And each chapter is necessary in order for the story to be whole. But not each chapter is equally important!
Like with any good story, there are chapters that are more defining than others. A place where the story takes a turn that will forever change the rest of the story. The Christmas story is one of those defining chapters. In fact, it could be said that it’s THE defining chapter in the story. You see, up until the chapter we call Christmas, one of the defining characteristics of the story (God’s story with his creation) was humanity (us) trying to get back to God. In Chapter 2 of the story (chapter 1 is the Creation Story), sin caused a separation between God and humanity. And from that point forward, up until the birth of Jesus, each chapter was about us trying to get back to God.
But with the Christmas chapter, everything changed! At Christmas, God came to us!
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23 (ESV)
And with that new chapter, everything changed! No longer were we left to try and earn our way back to God, but God had now come to us. And ultimately, as the climax of that chapter, he would give his life for us on the Cross so that we could have a relationship with God once again! Thank God for new chapters!
So as you think about where you are at this Christmas season, remember a few things:
- Christmas gives us hope for new chapters! You may be in a miserable chapter, but there is a finish line. And with that finish line, a new starting point to a new chapter. One that could change your life forever!
- Learn to appreciate each chapter of the story. Even the most miserable of chapters teach us something about ourselves and about God.
- Though your life has many chapters, one thing remains constant; God is with you! Christmas changed everything, and from that point forward, the entire story, our story, changed because God was always with us.
I pray that wherever you’re at on your journey this Christmas that you’ll take the time to fully appreciate the amazing gift of Jesus. He really did change everything!